831 vs 22 commuters/hour: you choose

In response to the government’s decision to build a 95-km long network of elevated corridors, urban experts and researchers have put forth a question to the city’s planners: is the aim of transport infrastructure to move the maximum number of people or vehicles?

A recent study by Dr. Ashish Verma, Associate Professor, Transportation Systems Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, shows that running metro trains on the proposed corridors instead of private vehicles will move nearly 38 times more people per hour.

The best way to gauge return on investment on any transport infrastructure is the number of people it moves for every unit of investment of public money, said Dr. Verma. “Any sensible person who applies his mind to solve a mobility problem without any bias will arrive at mass transit sytems like BRTS or Metro as the most feasible solution,” he argued.

The cost of building one kilometre of a four-lane elevated corridor is Rs. 166 crore. Highway Capacity Manual of India and Indian Road Congress norms stipulate that the capacity of each lane should be 1,200 PCU (passenger car unit), which will translate into moving 3,600 people per hour in one direction in 2 lanes.

This is based on the premise that the average occupancy rate of a car is 1.5. In other words, the government will be spending Rs. 1 crore to move 22 people per hour per direction, says the study.

Dr. Verma makes a case for a mass transit system like a metro network. According to the study, building a kilometre-long elevated corridor for a two-line metro will cost Rs. 150 crore. The carrying capacity of a single metro line per hour is 69,000 for a six-coach train with a frequency of 1.5 minutes, assuming the standing density is eight people per square metre.

The proposed elevated corridor would have four lanes, which can accommodate four metro lines – two in each direction. Thus, the carrying capacity of the metro per direction per hour would be 1,38,000.

With metro lines, the government can move 831 people per hour per direction for every Rs. 1 crore invested, which translates into nearly 38 times return on investment as compared to elevated corridor for private vehicles.

“The data speaks for itself. We have tried building infrastructure for private vehicles all these years and it has brought the city to where we are. All we are arguing is we should try an alternate approach with public transport,” said Srinivas Alavilli, Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB).

Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd. (KRDCL) had conducted the Detailed Feasibility Study for the elevated corridors project and will also be executing the project. The question by civic activists is whether the study compared the carrying capacities of the Metro and corridors.

M. Ganesh, Managing Director, KRDCL, said that the project was conceived for private vehicles and not metro. “There is a serious lack of transport infrastructure in the city. It is not an either-or situation. We need both. KRDCL’s expertise is in building roads, and not public transport. BMRCL is working on providing metro connectivity in the city,” he said.

Srinivas Alavilli, CfB, said, “How did KRDCL arrive at elevated corridors as the solution to improve mobility in the city without considering alternatives? In reality, the feasibility report is only an engineering solution, not a mobility solution. Even the tender to select a consultant for the feasibility study was actually advertised with details of the elevated corridors.”

How did KRDCL arrive at elevated corridors as the solution to improve mobility in the city without considering alternatives?

Srinivas Alavilli,

Citizens for Bengaluru

KRDCL’s expertise is in building roads, and not public transport. BMRCL is working on providing metro connectivity in the city

M. Ganesh,

Managing Director, KRDCL


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