October 3, 2005

Will we ever hit the road to smooth traffic?

Scene: Shanghai. Eighteenlane roads, smooth traffic flow, no crisscrossing of roads, disciplined driving, no lane-jumping and traffic under control.
   Scene: Bangalore. At best, 100-ft roads which accommodate two-way traffic. Hardly six lanes put together, bumper-to-bumper traffic, no lane discipline, all kinds of vehicles choke the roads and roads dug up almost everywhere.
   Can Bangalore ever do a Shanghai in traffic management?
   To bridge the gap between what people want and what the government provides, the first Times Round Table, an initiative of The Times of India, is being held on Saturday. The theme for this high-powered discussion is ‘Traffic, How To Decongest Bangalore’.
   The Times of India received several emails, faxes and letters from citizens on this problem. Says Ashish Shrivastav of Banashankari 3rd Stage: “Bangalore’s woes seem to be never ending but the solution lies in on how we involve ourselves to resolve this mess. In a short-term perspective, we need to motivate traffic police to ensure enforcement of traffic rules which requires regular professional training from an international agency, provide for internal competition to increase their effectiveness and rewards based on smooth traffic flow. All activities should be oriented to involve the police in a positive way.’’
   He also suggests that the government may task private companies to maintain some stretches of roads and give them, as sops, either advertising rights or tax concessions.
   Simultaneously, the government should take measures such as banning entry of heavy vehicles into the city at least 5 km away, make traffic classes mandatory in schools, regularise licence issuance, and provide sufficient foot over bridges and underpasses.
   Ajit Agarwal has other solutions: On the long-term front, place curbs on increasing number of vehicles, build multistoreyed parking, elevated right turns like the one at Hebbal, more flyovers and two-tier roads. On a medium-term basis, create more no-parking zones, have more one-ways, and condition roads.
   On priority, the police should be more strict in traffic management, enforce lane discipline, prevent crossing of white or yellow lines and stop signal-jumping. Dr M S Suresh makes another observation, “Avoid allowing right turns.’’
   Class VIII student Pradyumna Karpuram suggests: “Modernise the public transportation system and make it so efficient that more people use it instead of buying their own cars; change the way people work by introducing telecommuting and give companies better taxation rates to encourage this system; introduce online classrooms, introduce GPS-based traffic monitoring system; collect a fee from those driving vehicles in congested zones and invest this money in improving public transportation.’’
   Senior citizen B Natarajan says, “Buses should not stop near turning points as traffic slows down.’’
   Dibya writes from the US that a flyover there was installed in 48 hours. “We may not have that technology, but at least we must have our flyovers up and operational — quickly.’’
   Uttama Seshagiri advises IT captains: “Employees of Electronic City find it difficult to commute to their workplace. Can’t you provide an MRT-like an overhead cable car from concept to completion? How we miss visionaries like JRD who turned an ordinary town into Jamshedpur? He did not complain about what was missing in the town — he provided for everyone there.’’
   Shreyas Suresh Harve believes there’s only one solution: Metro Rail. Flyovers and oneways are just temporary solutions and the need of the hour is a Metro Rail offering connectivity, affordability, frequency and reliability.
Long-term view is a must:

The last person holding the baton in the relay may not necessarily be the problem. The government must look at infrastructure with longterm perspective so that successive governments can carry it forward. The government should set clear goals. Flyovers solve only intersection problems; it should look at doubledecker roads. I urge the government to look beyond its term to solve infrastructure issues because they will only worsen. Since it is just one of the runners in the relay, a long-term view is most essential. — Phaneesh Murthy, CEO, iGate Global Solutions
Times of India

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