The Bangalore International Airport is scheduled to open two months hence, and the question on everyone’s minds is to how one would get there. This airport is some 30 km outside the city, and though the road is part of the north-south corridor, it’s narrow in places and commute time to the airport will be massive. Plans to have a high speed rail link from the airport to the city center have remained just that – plans. Note the plural. There are way too many plans, and it’s unlikely we’ll have a rail line for another six years.
The BMTC has decided to do its bit by having “airport special” buses. It has commisioned some 40 Volvo buses which will run exclusively ot the new airport from various points in the city. Though the BMTC claims that the frequency of these buses will be once in 10 minutes or 15 minutes depending upon the route, a back of the hand calculation based on number of buses shows it won’t be more frequent than one every half hour. That too in the best case.
There are various other problems associated with this kind of a system. For one, passengers are likely to carry a huge amount of luggage. There needs to be an efficient system to make good use of buses so that a large number of passengers as well as their luggage can be carried. Due to the long journey, standing may not be an option. Another problem with the long commute is that the variance in travel time is going to be huge. To account for this, passengers will have to leave home insanely early.
Here is a better solution. The buses should be run by airlines. Let’s say Kingfisher takes control of some empty site level place somewhere in the middle of the city. Now, there will be dedicated buses for each flight that is going to take off (we might require some 3/4 buses for each flight). I know that this might result in inefficient usage of road space and buses, but wait.
The key to this is that passengers should be able to check in at the kingfisher bus stand! Using a Roving Agent kind of technology. That way, luggage can be managed easily (passengers dont’ need to take care of it till the airport). This means that the luggage can be easily taken care of in the boot of the bus or in a separate truck, and passengers need not be worried. Also, the fact that the luggage is taken care of by the airline means passengers dont’ need to unload the stuff at airports, go through the check in, etc.
So basically what I’m proposing is two or three “starting points” within the city (not more, it’ll be tough to predict, etc.) where people can board the bus after checking in their luggage. Apart from this, people without check in luggage should be able to board the bus at various points on the way to the airport! Each bus will have a “conductor” who has the roving agent with him and is capable of issuing boarding passes.
This is going to be the hard bit, but now that the airline itself is taking responsibiilty of the passengers’ transit to the airport, they can probably delay the flights till all the buses carrying their passnegers have arrived. Of course, they’ll time the departure from the bus stands with sufficient and more time for all buses to reach the airport, but in case of unforseen traffic jams, etc. planes could be held back.
And yeah – once a bus reaches the airport, remember that the checkin is already over and people can just go through security check (maybe there could be a few special security counters for those coming by these buses) and board the aircraft. The process gets much more streamlined!
Of course this is going to cost the airline quite a bit. This can be initially made complimentary, and then maybe added to the price of the ticket. Uniformly. Wthether a passenger opts for it or not. This will encourage more passengers to use this facility rather than driving up to the airport by themselves.
I think this is a far superior situation to having people traveling by public transport to reach teh airport.