This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by YLAC. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Finding Our Way Through Bengaluru: Driving Uptake Of Public Transport

More from YLAC

By Khushal Wadhawan, Sowmya V, Malavika Menon, Sudhamshu Hosamane

The ‘Silicon Valley of India’, Bengaluru, with its sprawling tech parks, leafy gardens and metropolitan culture has a lot to offer to tourists, job-seekers and natives alike. However, their experience in the city is often marred by infamous traffic jams and broken footpaths. The traffic jams in Bengaluru, which the city’s residents have come to woefully accept, are primarily a result of poor uptake of public transport.

Example – Bus route map in Bengaluru

According to a SmartNet Report, one of the reasons for the declining mode share of buses in Indian cities is that passengers do not have enough information on bus operations including bus routes, stops and expected arrival times. This is also true for Bengaluru which has been witnessing an increasing influx of migrant population who may not necessarily have the relevant knowledge about the public transport system, specifically the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) network that runs through the city.

To address this information gap, it is pertinent that cities have robust infrastructure to display both static and dynamic information. While static information refers to details on nearby bus stations, bus schedules, fare details and nearby points of interest, dynamic information, refers to real-time information for users.

Unfortunately, Bengaluru has yawning gaps on both fronts. Lack of well-defined guidelines on signage systems means that most bus-stops do not have adequate signboards or information around the routes served and the schedules of buses. The myBMTC app, which aims to provide citizens with access to dynamic information, has very limited information on the various buses on each route and real-time tracking is mostly absent. In contrast, most countries that have excellent Public Transport systems have well-designed signage and wayfinding systems in place.

Example – Bus Signage in Domlur

To discuss the importance of wayfinding systems for a city like Bengaluru, we spoke to Sensing Local, an ‘Urban Living Lab’ with a focus on developing solutions for sustainable urban development, on their experience with wayfinding projects in the city. 

Q: Most Indian tourists who visit Europe are in awe of the information available publicly through their wayfinding systems. Do you think there’s been a lack of interest among the public and the government in building basic infrastructure around the same here in India?

Sensing Local (SL): In India, basic physical infrastructure like good roads and footpaths remain inadequate to meet the needs of our urban population. In such conditions, wayfinding systems are perceived to be secondary. However, in the last few years, there has been a slow shift towards understanding the need for such signage, especially in metro stations and NMT lanes. However, there’s a long way to go for those in power to understand that providing better information directly impacts better utilisation of existing public infrastructure.

Q: What motivated Sensing Local to take up wayfinding projects, and what are the gaps you have tried to fix through your work in Bengaluru?

SL: Our first signage project was in collaboration with I-Change Indiranagar, a Resident community in Indiranagar. The community conceived it as a small system of neighbourhood signage in and around the Metro station, to aid overall navigation, increase walkability and use of public transport, as well as to create a unified map of the surroundings.

We started the project with an audit of the existing signage and found problems in the coherence of the neighbourhood itself—the grid system is not logical, road names are missing, new roads have been added, and original names have been forgotten. This makes navigation extremely cumbersome. Our interactions with the residents brought out a lot of these common problems faced by delivery, courier services and visitors in the locality. It also brought out the need to restore the identity of public spaces like parks, grounds etc. in their communities. Signage was a great way to reinforce the presence of these places.

Even in our Cubbon Park or KR market signage projects, we are attempting to enable decision-makers to plan the future of these significant landmarks. We hope to bring out the value of these places, which proves they’re worth conservation and investment. For example, the Cubbon Park map shows 35 layers of data in the wayfinding system including biodiversity, physical geography, road system and community activities enabled by it which makes it much more important than just green space with trees. Similarly, even for bus stops, the neighbourhood around the stop becomes important. Thus, as planners, signage provides a way for embedding information and value for the users of the everyday place they inhabit.

Q: Having worked on numerous wayfinding projects, have you noticed any persistent barriers in implementing such projects?

SL: One of our projects, the KR Market signage project has taken four years to start, and the Indiranagar Neighbourhood Signage project did not come to fruition even with complete community buy-in. The main barrier continues to be making the key stakeholders, including civic bodies, understand the value of such projects and see them through for successful implementation.

Q: Could you take us through an example of a successful wayfinding project and the timelines associated with it? Have you observed any visible impact?

SL: The Cubbon Park Information and Way-finding Signage project was proposed in August 2016, but the implementation started only in October 2017, and it was finally unveiled in April 2019. This was initially conceived as a 4-month project but creating a coherent signage system took almost 1.5 years.

Its success lies in the fact that each time we visit Cubbon Park now, we’re thrilled to see people looking at the maps. The biggest win for us is that the maps tend to make the place more visitor-friendly and many have written back to us saying that the signages now represent the image of the park and help them explore hitherto unknown aspects of Cubbon Park.

Q: How important is physical signage in an increasingly digital world?

SL: This is a crucial point that we keep going back to. In our opinion, it goes back to the users. Digital signage is experientially different from analog. It’s expensive in terms of the need for a responsive IT system at the backend and while our governments try to get these in place, there’s a lack of any kind of wayfinding system in place! While physical signage requires more real estate, it is faster and most importantly, accessible to all. So, an understanding of these constraints of cost, the real estate available, nature of information, vandalism, etc., should determine the choice of the signage.

Q: Some of the cities which are best known for their public transportation, such as London, also have state of the art wayfinding systems. As we conclude this interview, could you share with us your opinion on whether public infrastructure development and wayfinding systems should go hand in hand here in Indian cities as well?

SL: Yes, definitely! Any transport system would be effective only if commuters can reliably know the schedules and routes that they need to choose! For example, in Mumbai local trains, you can be rest assured that the timing displayed on the platform is accurate, and that’s what makes it successful. This is true for any successful public transport system.

By creating integrated, consistent and intelligently built pathfinding systems that ultimately contain information that is well-integrated into the context of the citizens, public/non-motorized transport can be developed as a real alternative to private transport. By providing integrated information, inter-modality can also be supported. With the support of state urban planning bodies and zealous citizens, we can together help Namma Bengaluru find its way to public transport!

Note: This interview was held as part of the work done under the Mobility Champions Program at YLAC, in connection with the #BengaluruMoving campaign to help reduce vehicular emissions and congestion in Bengaluru. The Mobility Champions’ aim was to bring out the need for well-designed public information and wayfinding systems across the city to make urban transportation a seamless experience for long-time residents and tourists alike. Their thought paper on wayfinding systems is available here.

You must be to comment.

More from YLAC

Similar Posts

By RAAZ DHEERAJ SHARMA✍️

By Accountability Initiative

By Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below