Bengaluru (or Bangalore), popularly known as the Silicon Valley of India, is one of the fast growing cities in India with a population of around 8.5m. The city is also taking a fresh look at providing solutions to connect key commercial and residential areas with the city’s metro system.

The largest taxi market in India

Bengaluru, which is rapidly emerging as a major IT hub in India, has one of the best bus-based transport systems in India, with Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) operating a fleet of 6,000 buses and carrying 5m passengers every day. It is also home to Bengaluru Metro, currently the second largest metro system in India and shuttling around 175,000 commuters to work each day.

What’s more, Bengaluru boasts the largest taxi market in India, with numbers doubling in the last two years, mainly due to the distance between the airport and the city and between the city and ‘electronic city’. Auto-rickshaws are also popular in the city; however, due to fragmented ownership, there is very little control over the quality of service, with most not using meters and haggling before trips is commonplace.

In order to connect all key commercial/industrial hubs and residential areas with metro stations, BMTC currently provides feeder bus services to and from metro stations but it is unable to meet the growing demand for last-mile connectivity in order to further increase ridership.

Apps and booking kiosks to improve last-mile connectivity

Bengaluru Metro, however, is now undertaking various initiatives to improve last-mile connectivity, including an agreement with ‘WickedRide’ to provide electric bikes at five metro stations and improving mobility and access at station areas. In what is a first for India, the metro has also just announced a tender to allow app-based cab aggregators to set up kiosks in metro stations, facilitating bookings and allowing commuters quick and hassle-free last-mile solutions. The metro has specified the monthly minimum reserve price fixed per station and will award a one-year contract to the bidder quoting equal to or more than the monthly minimum license fee.

India’s cab aggregator market is vibrant, with many players such as OlaCabs, Uber and Meru Cabs on the scene. However, there are still large numbers of users who are unable to use these apps and require support to make bookings, which is where the kiosks will be able to play their role.

Tech-savvy customers can pre-book vehicles before approaching the station, with companies committing to assuring sufficient vehicle supply at stations, a move which is expected to reduce fares as vehicle utilisation can be increased by sharing.

Though Bengaluru airport has provided dedicated pick and drop points to taxi aggregators at the airport, this will be the first such example in India of a metro network providing space for private companies to set up booking kiosks and one that other Indian metro networks will be sure to follow closely.

UITP is organising a seminar on IT solutions for public transport in Bengaluru on 6-7 March, as well as two training programmes related to the taxi market and the emergence of new mobility services: "Regulation and operation of taxi transport" (from 14 to 16 February in Muscat, Oman) and "New mobility services: shared, on-demand, connected and autonomous" (from 3 to 5 April 2017 in Vienna, Austria).