Congestion tax plan stuck in viability dilemma

Congestion tax plan stuck in viability dilemma

Practical issues, lack of infrastructure stop proposal from going forward

The Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT), under the Urban Development Ministry, is in two minds over levying the congestion tax on vehicles in Bangalore to ease the increasing traffic woes.

The department has been mulling over the proposal to levy the tax on vehicles during peak hours for some months after a direction from the Union Ministry of Urban Development last year that all metros and big cities should chalk out modalities for a possible congestion tax so as to deter road users from using individual vehicles and opting for public transport.

However, even after many months of discussions, the department is in a dilemma over the viability of this tax as the roads are  mostly crowded due to parked vehicles on the sides, leading to chaotic situations more often.

An official of the department said the proposal had been on the table, but so far it could not take off due to some practical issues. 

“First, for a city like Bangalore with such a high volume of traffic, roads need to be free of parked vehicles and lane driving needs to be implemented to ease congestion,” he said.The department had selected busy lanes such as the Old Airport Road, Old Madras Road and JC Road to start with, if the proposal gets approved by the competent authorities.The department has been mulling over the tax in the form of a uniform amount collected at the time of registration of vehicles. 

Choices

Another alternative being thought of is putting toll barriers for tax collection at specific hours for road users, wherever alternative roads are available for users, so that they can decide on whether to use a taxed road or a non-taxed road.

Lokesh Hebbani, transportation programme manager at CiSTUP, IISc, told Deccan Herald, “Congestion tax is a good measure and has worked well in places like Singapore and London. But for Indian cities like Bangalore, first we need to have infrastructure ready such as a proper parking place, traffic management systems, last-mile connectivity by public transport providers, besides taking steps to bring down the number of vehicle registrations,” he added.

So far, none of the Indian cities has been able to levy congestion tax due to lack of political will or other reasons, said another official of DULT.

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