I am a pilot from Bengaluru and live in the CBD. I heard Naresh Narasimhan's speech along with all the IISc experts' argument on YouTube. While they gave great speeches, I feel everyone totally missed the point of why we got to the problem in the first place.
Remember the days when latest gadgets would to take months to reach us and our lack of patience led to the national markets and the Burma bazaars? Well, in 2014, a bunch of engineers decided to get these gadgets and sell it exclusively on their website. In a matter of seconds they would sell out hundreds and thousands of phones, clothes etc. along with next day delivery and discounts. Overnight, this changed the country and our city forever.
Airliners jumped at this, filling their aircraft with these items, which meant that even a half-empty plane would fly profitably. Since 2014, our roads are not just filled with people but also with clothes, gadgets and food.
Bengaluru, thanks to all this, is now already building the biggest airport in India beating the likes of Mumbai and New Delhi by a huge margin. Experts think it's only going to be 37 million passengers per year in 12 years. I respectfully disagree. Capacity is not dictated by the number of passengers, but by number of aircraft slots. Airlines will pick up the slots and passengers will come. Irrespective, there is always going to be cargo. BIAL is set to triple its capacity by 2021 and rest assured those slots will be completely taken in a matter of months, if not weeks. When ready, it will host 55 million passengers a year bringing it to the top 15 busiest in the world. Add to that the cargo and you are looking at levels seen in JFK.
Let's start with public transport. Let's talk volumes of people during peak hours; there is one takeoff and landing every two minutes. That's an average of three buses of people and three trucks of cargo a minute. Add the 2-3 trucks of raw material for catering, plus the massive tankers of fuel and well you get the picture. So currently you have 12,000 people an hour in and out of the airport. Add another runway and this number is going to be 25,000 people to the city. So the options we have are, once you land in Bengaluru, go take a packed up metro from the airport to one of many already fully crowded railway stations with luggage, find a cab in that chaos to go from Yeshwanthpur or Majestic. Or sit in a cab for hours to cross Hebbal at 3 am, because we will only widen the road by two lanes. This is really not a solution.
We need a metro, because having 55 million people in and out by road is suicide, but my solution is not in a way you imagine it. There are a couple of challenges with that. Problem with the airport is that you can't go under the airport because there is extremely sensitive equipment that allows aircraft to land in zero visibility that requires a wide area clear of metals. Add to that the runway itself is designed to have mega aircraft weighing over 100 tonnes to land requiring huge amounts of ground work.
So it has go via the current road. The next challenge is Yelahanka Air Force base where you can’t have a flyover on either side of that base, not to mention getting plenty of clearances from them should you wish to go underground there. After that you should figure out where will you be able to catch the metro because Bengaluru is a circular city and not straight like Mumbai. You may connect it to Majestic via the metro as it is already going to be connected to the north-south and east-west lines and provide easy transit.
But how do you take a line from Majestic to the airport without cutting trees, not to mention getting the cargo to and from the airport with these constraints?
Answer is a double decker suspension bridge and as an example I give you the George Washington Bridge. It has two decks of six lanes and it carries trains too. It has an annual capacity of 100 million cars and train traffic, this is what we should be looking at. Even Hong Kong which like Bengaluru has its airport away from the city. And the beauty about the suspension bridge is that it needs to be anchored to the ground in just a couple of points so you don't need to cut too many trees plus since it's suspended, you can take the bridge high enough to avoid the trees and more importantly we can have multiple lines of metro.
Bring one line from Cubbon Park metro station via Raj Bhavan and take it over the golf course. Have another column near Mekhri circle or CBI and take it over the Hebbal flyover and bring the bridge upto Yelahanka. Another line can come from Byappanahalli via Ring Road to join that bridge and a line from Peenya from the Ring Road can also join via Sankey tank through Cauvery Theatre circle. From there you can connect to the metro via Yelahanka railway junction and use that line to get it to the BIAL road to the airport. Of course, add stops and bus connectivity along the lines.
Ideally I would have the line go all the way south to either Bannerghatta Road or Madiwala, if not Electronic City even though it may need multiple flyovers, but the principle is the same. Instead of just building flyovers and metros separately, build tall, multi-level and long flyovers along with multiple metro lines, so that people would have a choice of not taking their cars or bikes out. Even dedicated bus lines would suffice in places where distances are less but have a level dedicated for public transport and ambulances.