The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) can save a whopping Rs. 2.7 crores per annum in just one of its divisions by simply reducing “dead kilometers” in its routes, a new study has claimed. This study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Department of Civil Engineering at IISc, under the leadership of Prof. T G Sitharam. The team collected data on the daily schedules of Air Conditioned (A/C) buses operated by BMTC, their respective trip sheets, routes, information about depots and operating costs with an objective to minimize the total non-revenue generating distance traveled by all these buses of BMTC.
In the context of transportation services, the units of infrastructure include depots, bus stations and bus stop shelters. Depots are the main operating units where buses are parked overnight and maintained. Any bus in service needs to travel from a depot to the starting point of its designated route and return to the same or different depot upon completing its run. In this operation, the distance travelled by the bus from the depot to the route starting point, and from the route ending point to the same or another depot, is referred to as “dead kilometers”. Because they generate no revenue, minimizing dead kilometers will reduce operating costs without affecting services. This study is focused on reducing operating costs by minimizing these “dead kilometers”.
“This is the first systematic study conducted on the BMTC network, specifically looking at route optimization”, says Raviraj Mulangi, one of the team members who’s PhD is on this topic. “This method of study can be applied to other transport corporations too, with slight modifications to the model”, he asserts. During the study, the team learnt that BMTC has around 39 depots across Bangalore spread over its 5 divisions. It operates about 15.51 lakh kilometers per day through 1889 routes and 6691 schedules, of which 31893.7 kilometers are “dead kilometers”. The operating costs of these dead kilometers amounted to around forty crores of rupees per year.
The team built mathematical models with an objective to reduce the total “dead kilometers” through reallocation of bus routes to different depots. They considered various factors like depot location, routes, schedules and capacity at each depot for building these models. By using the data gathered and running optimization algorithms on these models, they found that in the Central division of BMTC that operates A/C buses, the number of dead kilometers per day could be reduced from the existing 3573.9 km to 2381.9 km, resulting in a saving of Rs. 73,904. Their model with the least number of “dead kilometers” also resulted in better utilization of some depots.
In addition, the study recommends building a few more depots in strategic locations to enable better operations and a further reduction of costs. It also suggests increasing the number of routes from some of the depots that generate greater revenue and in turn, raising the depot utilization. Overall, these steps are expected to help in improving the transport network and reducing the operating costs.
This study is definitely an eye opener in showing how small optimizations can result in big savings for a massive transport corporation like BMTC, one of the largest city road public transport organizations in the world. It can also reduce BMTC’s carbon footprint, resulting in a greener environment. “This is noteworthy savings! We plan to communicate the results of this study to other State Run Transport Units (SRTUs) of Karnataka”, signs off Raviraj.
This is the PhD thesis work of Mr. Raviraj Mulangi, and Masters thesis work of Mr. Jagadeesh, under the guidance of Prof Sitharam at IISc.
Prof. Thallak G Sitharam
Jagadish Mahadikar, Raviraj H. Mulangi and Thallak G. Sitharam, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. This is a PhD thesis work of Mr. Raviraj Mulangi and master’s thesis work of Mr. Jagadeesh under Prof. T.G. Sitharam’s guidance at IISc.