Sri Siddaramaiah,

Hon’ble Chief Minister

Karnataka                                                                                    Date : 12th February, 2024

Sub: Demand for increasing the number of buses and dedicated fund for bus transport in Bengaluru

Respected Sir, 

Hope this letter finds you in good health. 

Slum Dwellers Federation and Greenpeace India wish to congratulate the Karnataka Government for achieving an important milestone in 2023 by implementing the Shakti Yojana which ensured free bus passes for local women passengers onboard KSRTC and BMTC. This scheme has not only led to increased overall ridership, but has also been an important step in creating inclusive spaces for women in our cities and towns. The increased access to mobility has also allowed women to tap better employment and educational opportunities, in turn contributing to the state’s social and economic growth. Greenpeace India has been campaigning for inclusive, affordable, accessible, safe and reliable bus transportation systems in Bengaluru, and had put forth free bus passes for women and minorities as one of the priority demands in our mobility manifesto ahead of the state elections in 2023. 

However, despite its resounding success in bringing women passengers onboard, there are significant challenges faced by daily commuters in terms of accessibility, safety and reliability. The current BMTC fleet size of less than 6200 buses is highly inadequate to meet the demands of nearly 30 lakh daily commuters. Besides there are a lot of potential commuters who could use BMTC bus services or choose to switch to public transport if  this fleet size is increased. The lack of adequate buses has led to issues of safety for women and trans persons, erratic frequency, overcrowding, inadequate bus infrastructure and more. Improving the quality of experience in using the public bus transport system is critical in reducing the persistent problem of traffic congestion and carbon emission levels plaguing the city today.

In this regard, Slum Dwellers Federation and Greenpeace India would like to put forth the following demands to be incorporated in the upcoming state budget 2024-25: 

  1. Number of buses : Increasing the fleet size of BMTC to 10000 buses by adding 4000 new buses to the current fleet in the year 2024-25. 
  2. Free Bus Travel : The Karnataka government should extend the scheme for free bus travel to cover non-local women, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and students.
  3. Reserve seats and make bus transport free for the trans community which includes both transmen and transwomen.
  4. Start special feeder buses exclusively for women and other sexual minorities.
  5. Bus Lanes : Implementation of the 10 bus lanes proposed by DULT along with the reinstallation of the bus lane on Outer Ring Road, for creating a reliable and efficient bus service in the city. 
  6. Bus Transport Fund : A dedicated bus transport fund to improve the overall bus transportation infrastructure in the city which includes bus shelters, bus depots, and bus lanes. 

We also request you to consider the following recommendations during the upcoming state budget 2024-25, to achieve an inclusive, affordable, accessible, safe, efficient and reliable public bus transportation system in Bengaluru for all.

  1. Sustainable Transportation Fund : The Karnataka government must create a dedicated fund for sustainable transportation for the city of Bengaluru to prioritise decongestion by reinforcing bus transport, cycling and NMT(Non Motorised Transport). This is to ensure an efficient transportation system that prioritises people, not private vehicles. 
  2. Bus Stop facilities : Provide sufficient budget to ensure bus stops have proper shelters with amenities like toilets, public announcement, drinking water, information display system and CCTV cameras. More inclusive bus shelters need to be installed which should be gender-friendly, disabled-friendly and provide caregiving facilities for mothers.
  3. Introduce safety measures like panic buttons, women helpline numbers, LED lighting at bus stops etc to make bus transportation safe for women.
  4. Employee welfare: Employee welfare is critical in building a people-friendly bus transport system. Contractual workers which include drivers and conductors should be offered permanent employment.  Drivers should be entitled to fair compensation for their services. Also, more women bus drivers and conductors should be inducted and infrastructural facilities like restrooms should be made available for them at every bus depot and at various bus stops.
  5. Taxation : Introduce polluters pay principle and add additional registration fee on four wheelers, congestion tax, green tax, advertising revenue on transit corridors etc.
  6. Levy road charges for big cars (SUVs) with less than 3 passengers.
  7. To improve the financial viability of public transport, the state government could provide
    tax concessions to all public transport systems including para transit.
  8. Low Emission Zones : All Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zones (as per the Transit Oriented Development Policy drafted by DULT) and major city centres should be declared as Low Emission Zones (LEZ). This is in view of improving the air quality standards and reducing carbon emissions. 

We sincerely hope that you shall take these demands into consideration and work towards creating an efficient public bus transport system for the city of Bengaluru.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

John Samuel (Slum Dwellers Federation)
Sharat M.S. (Greenpeace India)