Bengaluru’s BIG-10 bus service hailed by top global expert

Dario Hidalgo, one of the world's recognised experts on sustainable public transport is impressed with BMTC's BIG-10 service. He is quick to add that there is much more room for city bus services to improve.

He is one the world’s foremost authorities on public transportation, and in particular bus systems. He led the transformation of bus transport in his home city of Bogota, Columbia and has since been involved a host of cities around the world.

Dario Hidalgo is in Bangalore for a few days and he and his team of people from EMBARQ, an international organisation that develops sustainable transport solutions, are training BMTC officials on improving it’s BIG-10 services. EMBARQ works with local transport authorities in developing countries to help them adopt best international practices.

Dario Hidalgo, is Director at EMBARQ. EMBARQ works with local transport authorities in developing countries to help them adopt best international practices on sustainable transport. It is headquarted at the World Resources Institute at Washington DC. Pic: Navya P K.


Hidalgo is the Director for Research and Practice at EMBARQ. Based in Bogota, he was a pioneer in introducing BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System) there.

In a conversation with Citizen Matters on September 28th, Hidalgo said that unlike other state-run bus transport undertakings in Indian cities, BMTC was actually ready to make changes to improve its services. "We are not a regular consultancy, we are handholding with BMTC," he says.

During this visit, Embarq team is focusing on improving BIG-10 bus services (services along the 12 major corridors in the city), specifically on the G3 (Hosur) corridor. "Improving existing services is more important that introducing Bus Rapid Transit, as BRT will come in some corridors only. BIG-10 has become a successful service; on improving it more people are likely to shift to public transport and reduce private vehicle usage. In addition to reducing pollution and traffic congestion, lesser use of private vehicles will also prevent wastage of expensive and scarce land resource which is used only for vehicle parking," Higaldo says.

The BIG-10. Pic: BMTC.

Higaldo quotes BMTC data on BIG-10 users. According to BMTC survey, 9% and 1% of current BIG-10 users were formerly regular users of two-wheelers and cars. "It is a major achievement. BIG-10 buses are of good quality, costs only a little more than ordinary bus travel and has grown as a brand," he says.

Higaldo opines that Big 10 can improve further if BMTC can add express services and add more short loops to the BIG-10 points. "Bus services have to adaptive based on real usage and conditions. Also they should not be overloaded, irrespective of the type of service," he says.

Higaldo says that BMTC is open to change and much change can brought about in a cost-effective manner. "For example, the number of services can be increased without increasing the number of buses. Tracking and shuffling the crew around the city can be automated with specialised software instead of the current process of manual data entry", he says.

The team is not focusing on BMTC’s plain vanilla bus services for now as they believe that only gradual change is possible. "In Santiago, Chile, the government attempted an overnight transformation from the old bus system to a new advanced system and it went into chaos. It is best to make changes incrementally, one step at a time," says Hidalgo.

Regarding the much-touted BRT, Higaldo says two things. One that BRT is not the panacea to all bus transport challenges in the city. He is firm that there is plenty of room for improvement in the current services itself, before moving on to BRT. "Bangalore would not be ready for BRT until existing operations and services are improved. Though BMTC is a very successful model in terms of profit-making, it has many challenges in terms of running time, boarding points, number of buses etc.", he says.

BRT is an advanced, technology based, intelligent bus transport system, Hidago points out. Bangalore should do a full lifecycle planning with co-ordination of different government agencies, like Ahemedabad did. BRTS failed in Delhi and Pune as they focused only on infrastructure and not on operations. "In Delhi a separate BRTS lane was made, but no separate BRTS buses were introduced. There was no branding or technology use in fare collection. In Pune the project was done cheap, without separate BRT stations which are in fact critical for quick entry and exit," he adds.

Higaldo says that the failure of Delhi and Pune models have harmed the concept of BRTS itself in India, but that Bangalore is taking a step in the right direction. "Last year the Ahmedabad BRTS team had visited Bangalore on BMTC’s invitation," he says.

Bangalore’s CTTP (Comprehensive Transport and Traffic Plan) suggests BRTS for 291.5 kms at the cost of Rs 3498 crores in 14 corridors. The pilot project is being planned for ORR between Silk Board junction and Hebbal. It is expected to cost Rs 550 crores, according to the Urban Development Department of the state government. The state government has allotted Rs 25 crores this year for the project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

A wayfinding challenge: Namma Metro Majestic to Bengaluru City station

A traveller from Majestic Namma Metro station to the City Railway Station must be alert and determined to quickly get to the rail terminal.

Wayfinding is part of global travel culture but in India it poses a serious challenge. Even in the era of national job mobility and a post-COVID tourism wave, governments don’t make it easy for people to find public places and essential facilities even in the biggest cities. Politicians are keen to provide clear pointers only to the next election. Maps online provide some guidance, but have nothing to say on the conditions on the ground. Try finding your way from Bengaluru’s bustling Majestic Namma Metro station to the City Railway Station just 200 metres away across the road. For a…

Similar Story

Effective speed management critical in India to reduce road crash fatalities

Speeding accounts for over 71% of crash-related fatalities on Indian roads. Continuous monitoring and focussed action are a must.

Four hundred and twenty people continue to lose their lives on Indian roads every single day. In 2022, India recorded 4.43 lakh road crashes, resulting in the death of 1.63 lakh people. Vulnerable road-users like pedestrians, bicyclists and two-wheelers riders comprised 67% of the deceased. Road crashes also pose an economic burden, costing the exchequer 3.14% of India’s GDP annually.  These figures underscore the urgent need for effective interventions, aligned with global good practices. Sweden's Vision Zero road safety policy, adopted in 1997, focussed on modifying infrastructure to protect road users from unacceptable levels of risk and led to a…