The aim is to prevent two-wheelers and four-wheelers from straying inside

Over three months after the bus priority lane was introduced on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) between Silk Board Junction and Tin Factory, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has finally started installation of plastic bollards and sand-filled crash barriers to tackle the issue of non-compliance of lane discipline. This has been a long-standing demand of citizens.

BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar said that work started on Tuesday and would be completed in a phased manner. “Once the bollards are installed, there will automatically be more compliance, which did not happen so far due to the absence of physical barriers. Once the operations here are stabilised, the bus priority lane will be extended to other corridors,” he said.

Ravikumar Surpur, Special Commissioner, Projects, said that the civic body had got 4G exemption under the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement (KTPP) Act, and the project would be executed through Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited (KRIDL).

“Plastic bollards will be placed with a one-metre gap on either side of the bus priority lane. The total length of the lane is 21 km, which means we have to cover 42 km overall,” he said. Sand-filled barriers will be placed at junctions and crucial spots.

C. Shikha, MD, BMTC, said that the design and colour codes were given by the Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT). “We are doing a survey of other stretches where the bus lanes can be extended, including Tin Factory-Hebbal, Goraguntepalya on Tumakuru Road to Nayandahalli junction on Mysuru Road,” she said. She also said that once bollards are installed on ORR, it would be easy for them to extend it to other corridors.

What ails the Bus Priority Lane?

Commuters have reported that the bus priority lane has reduced their commute time by 15 minutes, but many say that the initiative is yet to reach its potential.

When The Hindu went around the ORR on Tuesday, private vehicles, especially two-wheelers, were using the bus lane in the absence of a physical barrier and lack of constant vigilance.

K.G. Mohan of Bellandur Jothege, who commutes frequently on ORR, said that the agencies concerned cannot endlessly keep postponing the installation of bollards. “Due to the delay, lane discipline is quite bad, which naturally makes people think that the Bus Priority Lane is a failure,” he said adding that the work of installing bollards should have started as soon as the priority lane was introduced. He also added that of late, even BMTC buses were slowly moving out of the bus lane.

A BMTC bus driver said that buses deserved to move fast because they carry more people. “This will also encourage people to use public transport in cities like Bengaluru, which is notorious for traffic snarls. I do not understand why there is a delay in implementing steps that are vital for the success of a much-needed, positive project like the bus priority lane,” he said.

A marshal who was deployed to monitor the initiative said that they could do little to prevent people from driving on the priority lane. “We normally stand in the middle of the lane if we see other vehicles on the lane and divert them. However, once they get past us, they get back on the lane,” he said.

Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), which conducted the #NimbusExpress Bus Yatra to encourage people to use public transport, said that Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan recently assured them that the Bus Priority Lane “was there to stay” and that it would be extended to other high-density corridors soon.

“Initially, most of us opposed installation of bollards. However, now we are all for bollards. Once they are installed, the situation will definitely improve. Execution of the project is where we are lagging. Proper execution and use of technology by the police and the BMTC will definitely be a game changer,” he said.

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