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Traffic speeds keep going down in city

Rasheed Kappan BENGALURU: Feb 1, 2017, DHNS
Traffic speeds in the entire city including CBD and the outskirts is 20.4 kmph. This is lower than the national average that stands at 22.7 kmph, according to a study. DH FILE PHOTO
How quickly can you get across the city? For most commuters, this is a fundamental question about average vehicular speeds, the answer to which influences policies linked to mobility, traffic management and congestion. An officially sanctioned study of vehicular speeds in the city based on real-time traffic was conducted in 2008 by consultancy firm, Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES). The result was alarming: 18 kmph.

In the run-up to finalise its Revised Master Plan 2031 (RMP-2031), the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) informs that the traffic speeds in 2015 averaged 11 kmph. It attributes this to the rising number of vehicle trips per day that stands at a whopping 90 lakh. Left unaddressed, the speeds will drop even further to 8 kmph. Peak-hour vehicular speeds will be down to 5 kmph in 2031.

Focused on the central business district (CBD), an independent study by the Consortium of Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers (CTEST) had revealed this: Vehicles that zipped past at 35 kmph in 2005 slowed down to a crawl at 9 kmph in 2014.

Now, based on the distance traversed and time taken by Ola cabs in the city, the taxi aggregator has come out with another finding: Traffic speeds in the entire city including CBD and the outskirts is 20.4 kmph. This is lower than the national average that stands at 22.7 kmph. The study tracked intra-city speeds in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai.

Fewer accidents
But not everyone is convinced that reducing traffic speeds are a bad trend. Indicating that lower speeds reduce accidents, additional commissioner of police, Traffic, R Hithendra had this to say: “We don’t want speed. Speed cannot be at the cost of safety. Congestion is natural due to rising number of vehicles.”

Boosting the share of public transport in trips is the only way out, as both the RMP-2031 and the Bengaluru Blueprint documents reiterate. The Master Plan suggests 70% of all trips in the city should be made by public transport, up from the current 50%. But traffic analysts say this cannot materialise unless BMTC transforms from a profit-oriented agency to a service-oriented one.

One analyst points to Beijing, where public transport is hugely successful because it is accessible and highly affordable. Daily tickets cost only a Yuan. To boost quality of bus services, the Bengaluru Blueprint suggests origin destination surveys. Existing bus routes can be overlaid on these to understand service gaps.

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