Transportation in India, different stage of development – Bangalore

Date: 10 Mar 2016
Cat: India

The example of Bangalore from a foreigner perspective

India is a country with the size of a continent and more than 1 billion of people living there. Of course, it is not possible to describe every way of mobility in India.
However, we can give you a taste of it by describing what we experimented living there for 2 years.

In our European minds, when a city reach one million inhabitants (for example: Paris), it is a big city with:

  • Every urban transport available as metro, buses, or bike-sharing “how can be totally paralyzed a city when a metro line’s reconstruction!”

  • Of course with a good fleet management and coordination – “how pissed can be a Parisian when he has to wait for 7 instead of 2 minutes his metro!”


However in India, it is totally different. We can take the example of Bangalore.



  • Location: This city is located in the South of India in a “let’s say” area (or « departement » in French) Karnataka. This state has 64 million inhabitants, almost equal to French population. Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka.
  • Population: As lots of major cities in India, Bangalore population has grown up tremendously these past 10 years jumping from 5, 6 million in 2001 to 11 million in 2015. Still Bangalore is not the biggest city in India in term of population in India. Mumbai is welcoming more than 22 million inhabitants in 2015.

  • Economy: Often qualified as the Indian Silicon Valley, Bangalore has a remarkable economy with global and local companies’ set-up there: Tata, Airbus, L&T, Thales, Honeywell, Google, Infosys, Auchan, Decathlon, and Amazon…

To summarize, in our minds of European, it can be qualified as mega city!
Let’s go deep inside its transport system.

Our first chapter is: what are the existing urban transport modes in Bangalore?

Public Transportation

  • 1 metro: Bangalore has only one metro line with 5 metro stations so far (the expansion is planned in the coming years). The metro is clean and neat but doesn’t map the city. As the city has been built very quickly, the metro cannot be underground. Therefore it is a sky metro which means huge pillars on the road. It is very difficult to build as the roads are heavily trafficked and it will lead to lots of traffic jams.
  • Buses: Bangalore public transport is coordinated by a public organization named BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation). In 2011, BMTC was mentioning 6472 buses, 4, 9 millions passengers a day, 2398 routes.
    Different buses services are available in Bangalore:
  • Ordinary services
  • Vajra services
  • Pushpak services
  • Volvo BS-IV services
  • Atal Sarige services
  • Suvarna services
  • Grid roud services
  • Women services
  • Bangalore rounds services

Pricing of a ticket differs from the services you are choosing. It can be doubled if you chose to go for an AC (Air conditioning) bus vs. a non-AC. If the bus is a non-ac ones, it is sometimes very difficult as in India the temperature can reach 42 degree easily during summer season.

In almost every bus, there is a women area and a men area to avoid issue as the one from Delhi. If a man by mistake goes to the women area and he is not married with one of this woman, it can be in real trouble. Women can be very pissed and almost insult this man.

The buses are often very crowded and you can easily be stacked between somebody and the door or window (if you are lucky).

It is difficult to get inputs about the bus journey. Moreover, every bus hasn’t a signaling system to explain where they are going. As the driver is paid based on the number of passengers per day, it can lead to some “derive”.

  • Bicycles: So far, we haven’t seen any bicycle sharing system in Bangalore. However, we heard that some initiatives have taken place since 2011. One of them is the program of bicycle sharing ATCAG. However, it has only 45 cycles and 9 stations for this mega city. More than bicycles missing, two obstacles are on the way of bicycle sharing system in Bangalore:
  • First, the roads are not bicycles’ friendly. You don’t have any bicycles’ dedicated lane.
  • Second, culturally Indians are not keen on using bicycles which are often linked to oldness and poverty.

Private Transportation

  • 160 000 Auto-Rickshaws: These vehicles are daily used by every Indians (from the poorest to the richest). It is always an adventure for a foreigner :
  • 1st step : stop ones (they can be already used, impossible to see that before having him closed to you, they don’t have a green or red sign on the top of their autorickshaw)
  • 2nd Step : explain your destination (it is sometimes difficult for a foreigner, either you have to roll the R or last option to show the map on your phone)
  • 3rd step: bargain : if you start by naming the rickshaw a touk touk, you can be sure to pay double. You have to target 11/12 rupees per km, shake your head left/right, smile, and ask for the best price. You should pay a bit higher but it is your target price. At the end it is a win-win situation.

Did you know it? Green Rickshaw are the eco-friendly auto rather than the black one are the ones polluting the most.

Photo Rickshaw
  • Uberization: I can only imagine your reaction when reading that even in India, you can find Uber or its competitors Ola, mGaadi, Meru and much more.
    This new transport and economy have popped up at the beginning of 2015. It has been a revolution as more and more Indian are using a Smartphone. Moreover, both Uber and Ola has included in their fleet cars AND Rickshaw. Since then, it is more and more easy to get an Auto-rickshaw without bargaining so much (still you have to shake your head left and right :o) )
Ola App (1)

Personal Transportation

  • Bikes: Bikes or 2 wheelers are the most common private vehicle used by Bangalorian. In 2011, BMTC has reported almost 25 lakhs of 2 wheelers vs. only 5 for cars.
  • Cars: Cars are everywhere in Bangalore. According to the times of India, in 2015, Bangalore was the second city of India with the more of cars. In 15 years, the number of cars has exploded by 250% plus: from 15 lakhs to 55 lakhs. It is a huge surge for the city in term of congestion, pollution and quality of life. The number of lines for cars can reach easily 10 on the same road.
Car congestion 2
Car congestion

As a conclusion on the existing urban transport system, India is way different that Europe. They are working in developing and improving it. However, it cannot be a copy and paste of the European’s one as the culture, the history and architecture are totally different!

Be posted for the second chapter on real use case!

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