BBMP Floats Tender for Futuristic Pod Taxis
Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George announced that global tenders have been called for the installation of pod taxis in the city
Bengaluru: Bengaluru Development Minister K J George here on Monday announced that global tenders have been called for the installation of pod taxis in the city.
The minister tweeted, “BBMP invites bids for Implementation of Personal Rapid Transport system for Bengaluru under Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis under PPP Model”.
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had requested the Directorate of Urban Land Transport(DULT) to prepare documents for the project in October so that the cabinet approval could be obtained.
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said, “ After getting a feasibility report from IISc, we called the tenders. Initially, BBMP will not spend a single penny for this project. The companies which take up the project will have to bear the cost. Once the tender is finalized, the DULT will submit the final report to the cabinet for its approval”.
Pod taxis and routes
The “Metrino” line, will be a driverless personal rapid transport (PRT) system much like a cable car and is proposed to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,700 crore.
The BBMP has proposed six routes which include Trinity Circle to Leela Palace, Leela Palace to Marathahalli Junction, Marathahalli Junction to EPIP Graphite India Road, Trinity Metro Station to Koramangala/HSR Layout, Jayanagar 5th Block to JP Nagar 6th Phase and Sony Signal to Indiranagar Metro Station.
The BBMP Commissioner said that it would take about two years to implement the project. BBMP’s estimated concession period for the bidder will be up to 50 years in which the income will be shared both by BBMP, the Government of Karnataka and the private company. The project is estimated to cost Rs 50 crore per km.
“In European countries, this system is expensive because the population is also low in these countries. Bengaluru’s population is vast, which can make it affordable,” said BS Prahallad, BBMP Chief Engineer of the Road Widening Department.
Will this futuristic idea work?
Opinions vary on whether Bengaluru can have such a system transport system.
According to a senior BBMP official, “This is a personal rapid transit (PRT) system as opposed to a mass rapid transit (MRT) system. In MRT system like metro trains, the number of people transported from point A to point B is more compared to a pod taxi. Metro trains have six compartments and roughly transports around 1,500 people per journey. In pod taxis, it will be less than half of 1,500 people. It is not feasible”.
Stating that pod taxis are not completely useless, the BBMP official said that only one of the five proposed lines are actually feasible. “Of the six proposed routes, except for one, all of them are longer than 5 km and they connect busy neighborhoods which should instead have metro lines. The only stretch which is feasible is the Jayanagar to JP Nagar is actually a good suggestion,” the senior official added.
Namma Bengaluru Foundation CEO Sridhar Pabbisetty dismissed the entire idea. “Let the BBMP get rid of potholes first and then think of pod taxis. Instead of focusing on pod taxis, the government must look into ensuring that the city has a good suburban train system to reduce traffic jams,” he added.
Advisor and Consultant for Traffic and Transportation, MN Sreehari, who claims credit for recommending this project some years ago, told that such a system is ideal for a highly congested city like Bengaluru.
IISC Bengaluru Department of Civil Engineering Assistant Professor and the President of the Transportation Research Group of India Ashish Verma argues that with a project like the Metrino, the amount of investment versus the capacity of the system is completely asymmetrical. “If you consider that and factor it with respect to the amount of investment that you will make to create this system, it is peanuts,” he argued.