The The government of Karnataka again announced the establishment of the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) for Bengaluru. UMTA would radically transform the way urban transport is planned and implemented in the city. However, we must take into account the fact that this is not the first time that UMTA is planned for Bengaluru. Such an attempt was made earlier, but the project failed a lot.
Most Bengalur vehicles are privately owned (five million two-wheelers and 1.4 million four-wheelers since 2017 for approximately 12 million inhabitants). This trend has significantly contributed to the current institutional arrangements for urban transport. Its preferred ranking along higher corridors, steel air passages and no signal corridors shows a slope in the direction of current comfort and not prudent sustainable mobility. Such proposals would eventually lead to more congestion, pollution and other negative consequences in the coming years.
The Bengal history of multiple (and often competing) transport agencies is the main reason for such unsustainable projects being proposed and implemented. In order to avoid such a situation, Bengaluru must have a single agency, UMTA, capable of investing in sustainable transport projects.
The previous attempt to create UMTA, called the Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA), was created in 2007. It was established in accordance with the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) and was intended to decide on investments in sustainable urban transport systems.
It was established as a committee headed by the Secretary General, with the Commissioner, the Urban Land Transport Directorate (DULT). The members of the Board were heads of various public transport agencies in Bengaluru and other departments of the state administration, such as the Transport Department, the Financial Department and the Urban Development Department.
Although BMLTA was announced with the best intentions, it never took off. The main challenge was that it had no financial and legislative power to make decisions regarding transport planning. Planning and implementation of urban transport remained with individual agencies.
The second challenge for BMLTA is weak institutional arrangements. Many organizations did not participate in the effort.
Although the former BMLTA was designed according to Singapore LTA – as suggested by UMTA – there are some fundamental differences between these agencies. LTA is a land transport planning authority and has powers to plan land use. In the case of Bengalur, this authority is based on the Bangalore Development Agency (BDA).
In addition, LTA is authorized to design a public transport network, while individual agencies are service providers. In Bengaluru, service providers such as BMTC and BMRCL are planning and implementing agencies. The state government has little support to cover the operational losses of these agencies.
It is thus clear that UMTA must be successful, needs financial and legislative power, and independent professional leadership. Such an authorized agency would be responsible for deciding on the nature of the investment in the market for the city.
From a financial point of view, the proposed UMTA should allow the financing of operational and capital costs. Mechanisms such as gasoline / diesel, congestion charges and user charges on cabin aggregators can be fed into the urban transport fund in order to cover operational costs. On the other hand, capital costs would require the financing of state and central governments.
Given that UMTA would be a technical agency entrusted with the planning of traffic for the metropolitan area, it would benefit from the technocratic leadership, along with a team of technically qualified personnel.
If the proposed agency is successful, some key issues must first be addressed. The state and central governments must integrate on the key principles of sustainable transport and transform them into capital investments. In addition, transport agencies such as BMTC and BMRCL should be brought into line with the fact that they would be service providers and not a planning agency.
We hope to take these points into account, which would lead to the establishment of a successful transport authority for Bengaluru.
(Trupti Deshpande is a research analyst and Vivek Vaidyanathan a scientific scientist at the Bengaluru Center for the Study of Science, Technology and Policy [CSTEP], a research political think tank. Views expressed in CSTEP opinions. You can contact the author at [email protected]
– The Chinese
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(This story is not governed by Business Standard staff and is automatically generated from a synchronized source.)