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Commuters’ hopes rise as govt looks at UMTA Bill

Abbinaya Kuzhanthaivel

UMTA will make all modes of transport accessible to people

Campaigns to bring Bengaluru’s agencies like BMTC, BBMP, BDA, suburban rail and BMRCL under one umbrella seem to have attracted the government’s attention. It is considering a Bill to bring these bodies under a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA).
“To ensure an overall efficient mobility solution, a UMTA is necessary. Unfortunately, we don’t have an example in India to show how well a UMTA performs. But we have examples from Singapore, London and European countries. A UMTA will be a good vision for sustainable development. If not by choice, UMTA will come by force,” Ashish Verma, associate professor, transportation systems engineering, Indian Institute of Science, informed The Observer.
UMTA is an umbrella body for transport under which all the modes of transport and planning departments will be integrated and maintained.

People started campaigning for a UMTA on social media. They insisted the government set up a UMTA rather than work on elevated corridors.
“Without a regional authority, proper planning for the city can’t be made. If a Metro rail can accommodate 500 people at a time and, say, 50 deboard at the same stop, there is a question as to how they would switch to other modes of transport,” activist Sandeep Anirudhan observed.
A unified body would ensure transparency in the flow of funds for transport project, he added.
A top BMTC officer said: “It is a good move by the government. Decision-making will be faster. It is a continuous process that might take time to implement but will have benefits in the long run.”
“A UMTA Bill is under the government’s active consideration. It would be too early to comment on the benefits,” N Murali Krishna, special officer, Directorate of Urban Land Transport, said.
BBMP chief engineer MR Venkatesh feels it should be under the civic body. “UMTA will be able to perform well if it comes under the BBMP commissioner.”
But some, like Banashankari resident Ravichandra SD, are against forming an umbrella body. “I don’t think it is good to have a UMTA. The profits of one department can be invested for their own developments. Individuality would be difficult to maintain.”
Divyashree D, a geotechnical engineer with Sarathy Geotech Pvt Ltd, agrees with Ravichandra. “It would be very difficult to manage the staff and the system everything comes under the single roof. It is fine if they work in coordination. There might be a change in fares.”
UMTA could be a dream come true for commuters who have long rued Bengaluru’s poor transport system.