Bengaluru, September 19th: Greenpeace India’s latest report, “Relying on bus: Studying the impacts of Bengaluru’s bus lane on bus use” reveals the far reaching impacts of Bengaluru’s exclusive bus priority lane on public bus users. The report, which is based on an on-board survey of 979 bus users, was conducted between May and July 2022. The bus lane, which ran along the Outer Ringer Road (ORR) on a stretch of about 18.5 kilometres, has been discontinued since mid 2022.
The study sheds light on the bus lane’s positive effects on travel time and potential solutions to Bengaluru’s air pollution crisis. According to the report, over 28 percent of existing bus users reported an improvement in travel time since the implementation of the bus lane. This improvement was particularly significant for those travelling longer distances, with 54 percent of respondents experiencing a reduction in travel time from 60-90 minutes to 30-60 minutes. Additionally, 82 percent of respondents found the bus lanes to have a generally positive experience.
Amruta S.N., Greenpeace India campaigner, adds, “The introduction of the bus priority lane attracted new users, particularly women, with three percent of respondents starting to avail public buses since the introduction of the bus lane, despite its limited stretch. Among these ‘new’ users, an overwhelming majority are women (73 percent), which highlights the gender-positive impact of the bus lane. These findings strongly support our recommendation to implement bus priority lanes on routes that have already been mapped out by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT). ”
The survey further highlights the overwhelming desire of respondents for the introduction of more bus lanes throughout the city. A staggering 86 percent of respondents expressed their support for expanding the bus lane system, suggesting key areas such as Hebbal, Tin Factory, Silk Board, Marathahalli, Whitefield, Electronic City, BTM, Majestic, and KR Puram. Some individuals even called for bus lanes to be implemented throughout the entire city.
Avinash Chanchal, Greenpeace India’s campaign manager, emphasises the close link between Bengaluru’s transport problems and its air pollution crisis. Heavy traffic congestion contributes significantly to air pollution as vehicles emit harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. Bengaluru’s air quality has consistently ranked as one of the worst in India, posing a significant health risk to residents, especially vulnerable populations such as children, elderly citizens, pregnant citizens, and individuals with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions.
“To combat this issue, we must improve the public transportation system in Bengaluru and invest in infrastructure such as bus lanes, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian walkways. This will significantly reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads and lower pollution levels,” added Chanchal.
This survey and various other studies have consistently advocated for a stronger implementation of dedicated bus lanes. Not only is the implementation of bus lanes cost-effective, but it also offers numerous benefits to commuters. These benefits include faster and cheaper transit, reduced travel time, increased usage of public transportation, improved safety, and a decrease in carbon emissions.
The Outer Ring Road bus lane, which was started on a trial basis in 2019, was unfortunately removed due to the ongoing construction of Bengaluru Metro’s Blue line. However, the report clearly indicates the need for revisiting bus lanes as a potential solution to the air pollution and traffic congestion crises in Bengaluru. The prioritisation and implementation of the 11 other proposed bus lanes in Bangalore will go a long way in improving the city’s public transport system. By dedicating lanes exclusively for buses, we can enhance the efficiency and reliability of our public transit system, ultimately leading towards sustainable and convenient mobility for citizens.