So in Bangalore, the fourth of every month is celebrated as “bus day” when people are encouraged to give up on their private transport vehicles and opt for the BMTC bus. So far, what the BMTC has been doing is to increase frequency of buses on certain corridors so that people who travel those routes are further encouraged to use buses. Hopefully soon there will be a time when public transport in the city is so good that every day is a bus day.
Problem with getting everyone to use public transport is that certain routes are extremely “illiquid” in the sense that there just aren’t enough passengers who want to travel between a particular pair of points for the BMTC to put a bus on that route. Even if they do put a route, it is likely to be extremely infrequent and not really serve the purpose.
Problem with growth of bus services in Bangalore over the years (starting with Jayanagar-Yeshwantpur) is that bus services are usually point-to-point. There hasn’t been much effort in terms of developing interchanges, and the only good interchanges that make sense currently are Majestic, Market and Shivajinagar – all of which are in the center of the city. Given the geographic expansion of the city, it doesn’t really make sense to go to the center to change buses. We need interchanges everywhere.
And the lack of viable interchanges is what I think makes bus transport much less popular than it should be (yeah, we still need lots more buses than we have right now). For example, my office is on intermediate ring road, behind the Dell office. And there is not a single bus from my office to the center of the city (majestic/market/shivajinagar) because of which it is extremely tough for people who work in my complex to commute by work. There are buses on the road that our office is situated on, but none that connect properly to buses that go to the city center, which also makes interchange difficult.
Similarly at Hudson Circle (“corporation”). There are bus stops all around the place but the problem is they are so far away from each other and it takes so much crossing to get from one to the other that this junction is not as good an interchange as it used to be a few years back! Encourages inefficiency in terms of having to go to one of the bus stands for changing buses!
The current system of segmentation of buses (in terms of various classes of service) is commendable and I think the air-conditioned premium service is doing a lot of good in terms of taking cars off the road. However, in order to get more people to use the system, what we need is a network where it is possible to go from any stop to any other with the minimum amount of time being spent in terms of waiting. Traffic is already bad so it is bad enough that we spend so much time just commuting, and one of the main reasons people are put off from taking buses that added to this commute time is the waiting time!
And once this system of convenient interchanges and “structured liquidity” (if a market is illiquid, there is a set of buses which are each operating on liquid routes and which together through convenient interchanges serve this market) is put in place, then my grand idea of flooding the city’s roads with buses in order to crowd out cars can be implemented.