Thursday, March 13, 2008

BIAL - the cost of some really silly governance

Much has been said in the papers about this topic (and I really like this blog post, which really sums it up very, very well). I just thought I would list down the points I really find funny, and reflective of the situation that is India:

1. This was supposed to improve Bangalore's infrastructure, and be an answer to the fact that HAL could not handle the traffic. Apparently BIAL decided to work on an estimate of 10 million passengers by 2010 (that too, as an outside estimate).
Er... the catch is, it's only 2008, and it's already 10 million passengers and growing. Meaning BIAL is effectively already undercapacitized. So no goodbyes yet to circling over the airport.

2. Roads - We can all say that the new airport can handle more passengers at a time, but to be able to handle passengers, you need passengers to arrive there first. You also need them to arrive with some time in hand so that the flow is smooth, and you could milk them for additional expenditure on duty frees, cafes, etc.
The thing is, the highest target audience is likely to come from South Bangalore - the city's economic hub. BIAL is diagonally opposite them, and as most newspapers have now reported, reaching BIAL can take you anywhere between 2 - 3 hours. So you can fly out of Bangalore to any national destination in less than 3 hours, but it could take you 3 hours to reach the airport!
(PS: I've driven from Cambridge Layout to Yelahanka, which is before the international airport - that did take over an hour)

3. UDF - BIAL wants to charge a UDF to all domestic and international passengers.
Now, I'm all for the captialist motive and paying for benefits you get, but in this case, what benefits or service would I be paying for? For having spent additional time and money to get to the airport, and then get delayed anyway?
Frankly it sounds like someone did a simple financial math: Balance income needed to break even / No. of estimated users over the next few year s.

4. Magic box hoo-haa - All the rush about improving connectivity has suddenly had the Bangalore authorities trying to minimise traffic load on the main road from the city - Palace Road / Mekhri Circle area. And thus was born the mother of all quick fixes - the Magic Box. Enough has been written about how it took ten times longer than what it was supposed to, but I'm pleasantly surprised that we managed to have an underpass in less than 2 months!
However, I've had the privilege of passing over the Magic Box recently. Thing is, I hardly saw anyone using the underpass! One may argue that at least the 'overpass' area is now signal free, but since you effectively have to do a U turn anyway, there's going to be a near slowdown. Coupled with the fact that there will be many drivers who will cut lanes...

5. Airport Strike - Apparently AAI employees are striking (rather, 'not cooperating'), to demand that the existing Bangalore and Hyderabad airports remain functional - apparently, in public interest.
Really! How kind. Of course, you're not worried that your laziness to do quality work may put your job in danger in the capitalist BIAL economy.

6. Know your leader - It's the government's prime responsibility to act in public interest. So if connectivity is not improved, you would think the government would at least find an interim solution. But, they've also signed a agreement for exclusivity, which means that contractually, the government cannot continue with the old airports. Defying the agreement means loss of face.
So, the general public pays the price for what's essentially just a lack of bloody common sense among the leaders they voted for. (Although, am willing to bet that most air travellers hardly vote, and perhaps therein lies another moral.)

... am done now (and it's 3 am. Good night!)


notesby said...

thats an awesome post on the state of affairs in blr. I am an ex-blr boy and my mum still lives there and flies frequently and I have heard the horror stories about this new airport. I really do not see any benefit from this other than it being a "palm greasing" exercise. Just another futile attempt to provide illusionary infrastructure

Raman said...

I disagree :-) My house is pretty close to the new airport and i'm pretty happy!! Tough Luck to All those people complaining!