The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses traverse a whopping 11.5 lakh km across the city every day. That is three times the distance to the moon.
The buses cover 71,000 daily trips through over 6,000 routes. Yet, Bengaluru’s public transport system struggles to meet the demands of a city bursting at its seams.
The longest BMTC route is 600, so long that a bus takes over five hours to complete the 117 km from origin to destination. To understand how, despite such a big network, BMTC fails to attract private vehicle users, visualisation of the route map could help. This is exactly what a few independent visualisers and analysts have done. Can urban planners, transport policy experts and commuter representatives sit together now and analyse these data maps to smartly tweak the bus routes?
Kizley Benedict’s mapped analytics of the bus stops and frequency of the bus routes shows another trend: North Bengaluru has less routes, but more frequency, while South Bengaluru has many routes that are less frequent. Benedict relied on data sourced by Thejesh G N, another city-based open data activist. Contrary to popular perception, the Kempegowda Bus Station (KBS) is not the transport hub where most BMTC bus routes converge.
The analytics show that it is in fact, KR Market, with 918 routes. KBS comes second with 676 routes and the Shivajinagar bus station is at a distant third with 276 routes. Route KBS-3A makes the most trips, 274 to be precise. Routes 401M and 252F make 217 daily trips each. These are the three most frequent routes in the city. The longest route, 600, begins and ends at Banashankari TTMC, covering Kengeri, Nagarabhavi, Hebbal, Kalyan Nagar, Whitefield, Varthur Kodi, Dommasa.
Can data visualisations such as these spur BMTC to undertake a grand route rationalisation exercise to maximise the efficiency of its existing fleet? Vinay Sreenivasa from the Bus Prayanikara Vedike reminds that the transport corporation had prior experience in this venture.
He explains: “A few years ago, BMTC had consolidated 30 to 50 existing routes to start three ‘trunk’ services from KBS (Majestic) to Anekal (Route 3A), Bommanahalli (3B) and Chandapura (3C).” The plan was to start feeder routes from each of the end points to the interiors. But the feeders never materialised. “Commuters cannot be expected to take another bus, thereby, forcing them to buy two tickets. That would raise the travel cost. BMTC was supposed to expand the trunk and feeder system to other areas,” notes Sreenivasa. If well planned and executed, route rationalisation can help BMTC reduce buses, but increase the frequency of trips, he says. “This will also help cover more areas. Instead, the corporation is now cutting down routes, citing low revenue.