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A file photo of a Bengaluru flyover. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
A file photo of a Bengaluru flyover. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru flyovers poorly designed: Brazilian expert Paulo Sergio Custodio

Metro may be the most effective means of conveyance in a rapidly-expanding city such as Bengaluru, says Brazilian public transport expert Paulo Sergio Custodio

Bengaluru: Traffic police are often blamed for not doing enough to keep vehicles moving during rush hour. But bad traffic is often an engineering problem and not always an enforcement problem, said Paulo Sergio Custodio, an international public transport expert who has worked with many countries, including his native Brazil, to come up with better ways to solve transport-related issues.

In an interview with Mint, he suggested a few solutions to decongesting Indian cities and why the Metro might not be the most effective means of public transport in all parts of Bengaluru.

Edited excerpts:

Why is traffic management more of an engineering problem and not a problem for the cops?

You are making this building. If you have bad engineers, they build in the wrong way. Like what happened with the Delhi BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). It was bad. Bad design and bad construction. You cannot do things in the wrong way and want them to work well. Why (is) the Ring Road (in Bengaluru) congested? Because all of those flyovers have bad design. (You) don’t have one single flyover that is well-designed.

Have you ever done a cost benefit analysis of a BRT versus a metro?

Yes. In most of the cases, if you have the space, BRT wins, clearly. Before the BRT was invented, I used to call it Metro with buses.

Would you say imposing a congestion charge is a good way to disincentivize people from using personal transport? Or are there better ways such as developing dedicated lanes where personal transport cannot enter?

It is not a question of what is better. You need to do both. Because (if) you charge the guys (but) don’t have good transportation, you are pushing them to go where? You need to give them the alternative.

Have they told you how long an average trip length is in Bengaluru?

They say it is 10.9 kilometres. Now, it takes 40 minutes. But this means this city is not a healthy city. In São Paulo (Brazil), for example, it is 8km. It means that we have much more probability that a person finds a job nearer to home than here in Bengaluru. And São Paulo is a 20 million city. Hence, São Paulo is much more better distributed than here in Bengaluru. We need to rethink the city. And this takes time. You need to think (what) the city wants to have in 20 years time.

Is it the same way in say Mexico? Here the city doesn’t do as much to regulate development. So there is all kinds of development everywhere.

Yes. But its changing. Because there was a sense that you need to control. So we have, like in other places, started having land use laws. And these land use laws are strictly enforced. You don’t have (land use regulations). Mexico started having this from the last 20 years. São Paulo had this for the last 40 years. But you need to start someday, somewhere.

You think BRT will ever work in Bengaluru?

Yes. I am sure it will.

And should it ever be a BRT versus Metro (rail decision on which to implement?

No. I think, according to the situation, one option is better than the other. Where you have space, BRT is better, because it costs six times less, maybe 10 times less (than a Metro).

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