To decongest traffic and give priority to public transport, Bengaluru has got its first Bus Priority Lane. Operational from November 15, the lane runs along Outer Ring Road (ORR), from Swami Vivekananda Road to Silk Board.
According to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials, the route covers 12 high-density corridors, including areas on Outer Ring Road, Hosur Road, Bannerghatta Road, Old Madras Road, Old Airport Road, West of Chord Road, Magadi Road, and Ballari Road, among others.
The bus priority lane has been established by the BBMP, Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), and Bengaluru City Traffic Police (BTP).
On Friday evening, the Bengaluru police commissioner came out with a notification prohibiting entry of other vehicles to the bus priority lane. Only BMTC buses, ambulances, and fire engines will be allowed on the lane.
Solutions to Bengaluru’s infamous traffic woes
A dedicated bus lane has been proposed as a solution to Bengaluru’s infamous traffic woes by many for over a decade.
In October this year, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister Laxman Savadi inspected the Outer Ring Road (ORR) between Central Silk Board junction and KR Puram, a 27-km stretch, to finalise the proposal.
The left lane in the main carriageway will be dedicated for BMTC buses, separated physically by steel bollards installed by BBMP. The initial goal of the authorities is to increase the average speed of public buses on this route from about 10 kmph to 18-20 kmph.
BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar tweeted that a 12-km stretch of the lane on the ORR was functional, and according to BBMP Special Commissioner D Randeep, work on the lane from Iblur to Silk Board Junction is on and will be completed by the end of November.
Private vehicles using bus priority lane to invite penalties
The Bengaluru traffic police Friday notified a number of stretches (especially on the service roads in and around Marathalli and HSR Layout) as unidirectional roads to ensure smooth movement of traffic on the bus priority lane.
The traffic police, for now, will book offenders under ‘other offences’ of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which come with a fine of Rs 500 for the first offence and Rs 1,000 for every subsequent one.
The order by Bengaluru police commissioner Bhaskar Rao states, “Section 115 of the Indian Motor Vehicle (IMV) Act that gives power to the state government to restrict the use of vehicles on roads or bridges and IPC Section 188 (disobedience to an order by a public authority) can mean imprisonment for a term of up to six months, or a fine which may be up to Rs 1,000, or both.”
Rao also notified traffic diversions in KR Puram, HAL, HSR Layout and Madiwala police station limits.
One-way restrictions by traffic police
The notification by the Bengaluru city police commissioner imposes one-way traffic restrictions on the service road of the outer ring road. One-way traffic has been implemented between Marathahalli Bridge to HDFC Home Loan building, Marathahalli bridge to E-Zone night club, E-zone to Jeevika Hospital and Kadubeesanahalli to Marathahalli Bridge.
Over 800 buses branded ‘Nimbus’ to ply on the lanes
The BMTC has branded buses running on the proposed routes as ‘Nimbus’. With the tagline ‘Commute Better’, all buses in these lanes will carry the Nimbus logo.
The BMTC will operate 835 buses, including 350 AC buses, on the priority lane. To avoid bus breakdowns, the BMTC has decided to operate buses with mileage not above 2,00,000 km. The BBMP will improve all the bus stops along the way with better signage etc. At select points, service lanes will be blocked from accessing bus lanes to ensure smooth bus transit.
CCTV cameras for enforcement
The authorities have decided to use technology for enforcement. The BMTC has installed CCTV cameras in more than 70 locations to capture licence plates of motorists who barge into bus lanes.
According to BMTC, an increase of 1.5 lakh in daily ridership is expected once the entire bus priority lane is operational. At present, nearly 35 lakh commuters rely on public transport in Bengaluru.