Bengaluru: Hosted by Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC) in partnership with the #BengaluruMoving campaign, World Resources Institute India (WRI) and Let Me Breathe (LMB), the Mobility Champions programme has proposed three unique solutions to solve the traffic woes of Bengaluru. The programme, which began on July 25, worked with 12 enthusiastic young city residents to propose promising mobility solutions and gain support from policymakers and citizens. The Mobility Champions initiative is part of the larger 'Bengaluru Moving' movement to highlight the public transport issues in Bengaluru and the need for improved first and last mile connectivity, while championing bus lanes, options for non-motorized transport (NMT) and investment in urban transport infrastructure.
Taking into account the burgeoning number of two-wheelers in the area, which exceeds 50 lakh, by considering the legalisation of bike taxis, the mobility champions have recommended their better utilisation for building a robust first and last mile solution. As a first step, a Regulatory Sandbox could be set up by the government where new mobility service providers, such as bike taxi operators, can pilot their services for a particular period of time in a restricted geography. It is then possible to test this pilot to gauge the capacity of these programmes for congestion mitigation. In addition, optimising BMTC routes and adding new metro feeder buses to provide connectivity between IT Parks and metro stations for the first and last mile, while maximising bus lanes are some of the prominent recommendations proposed. Talking about the importance of micro-transit, Mobility Champion Febin Sagir said, "Micro-transit services, as a means of first-mile and last-mile connectivity, can complement the mass transit (bus, metro, suburban rail) network and help increase public transportation adoption."
Walking is the primary mode of travel for a large number of people in Bengaluru. It is estimated that more than 28 percent of all trips in Bengaluru are carried out by walking, one of the largest metro cities in India. In the aftermath of the global pandemic, the emphasis on socially distant non-motorized transport (NMT) is seeing a resurgence around the world. In line with this, the Mobility Champions have recommended a two-pronged approach which makes streets safe and footpaths a sought-after mode of commute while enticing people to pick bicycles over motorized transport. Their solution comprises a combination of better urban design for improved connectivity and a well spread out infrastructure for bicycle lanes. Sharing his thoughts on the program, Jaison Jose added, "The Mobility Champions program provided us with a platform to engage with NMT developments in the city and to work with prominent stakeholders such as the Bicycle Mayor and the Department of Urban Land Transport to bolster the ongoing efforts. Our main objective was to build support for NMT in Bengaluru, a city where the weather and terrain are both conducive to cycling and walking."
For a city with a growing population of non-native speakers, information availability at bus stops or on apps in English as well as Kannada has become increasingly important. To aid this set of commuters, the Champions have also put forth recommendations for building a consistent, citizen centric and integrated path-finding system for the city i.e. designing information systems such that they are: i) INCLUSIVE to take into consideration the needs of each and every citizen; ii) ACCESSIBLE to all, both online and offline; iii) RELIABLE, where accurate information on public transport is available to everyone to reduce uncertainty and enhance ease of travel; and iv) RESPONSIVE, where mechanisms are in place to address grievances and ensure safety of travelers.
Khushal Wadhawan, a champion working on this initiative, said, "To retain and increase the mode share of public transport, it is essential that the users are provided with real-time, accurate and reliable information on public transport operations. This will help public transport develop as a real alternative to private transport and would ultimately lead to less vehicular density and congestion on Bengaluru's streets"