Productivity, health dipping due to traffic chaos

How do commuters in areas not served by the suburban rail or the Metro cope up? How do they negotiate the massive traffic jams that have become a daily ordeal? DH dived deep into these areas to understand the commute struggles.

In areas such as R T Nagar, Airport Roads both new and old, Sanjaynagar, Koramangala, Silk Board and other localities, peak hour traffic often brings commuters to a virtual halt. The proximity of arterial roads in these areas to industries and corporate offices makes it worse. Besides the narrow and congested roads, there are no alternatives.

Lack of proper transport planning has meant the densely populated residential areas and IT hubs of Bengaluru are not connected by multi-modal commute options. The result: Lakhs of commuters are caught on the road with their productivity and health taking a huge toll.

Many techies working in Manyata Tech Park, Electronics City and Whitefield are forced to depend on buses or their own private vehicles. Humungous traffic jams at the Silk Board Junction, for instance, tests the patience of road-users. The promise of a Metro line linking this crowded junction to K R Puram and beyond through the Outer Ring Road (ORR) is yet to get to action mode.

Mitali Kulkarni, a software professional staying in HSR Layout, narrates her daily experience: “It takes me almost two hours at times to cover an eight-kilometre distance to Embassy Tech Village. The severe traffic congestion on ORR is the main reason.”

She is convinced that the number of employees commuting on this stretch will only increase. “Metro trains should have been up and running here three to four years ago. But I don’t see any plan for it even now. So we, commuters as a community are continuing to spend many unproductive hours, helplessly stuck in traffic,” she says.

Many find it hard to digest that the government has paid no attention to address their travel woes despite their long years of struggle. Ajay Bharadwaj, a frequent commuter on Varthur Road says, “This area was nearer to my office. But whenever I wanted to commute to Majestic / City Railway station, it was quite an ordeal to make it on time to catch the bus/train.”

On many occasions, Bharadwaj just made it to the trains at the last moment. The heavy traffic congestion on Old Airport Road never gave him any respite. He believes in enhancing Metro connectivity at the earliest.

But there are also a number of commuters who do not mind travelling 1-2 kilometres to get to a station. It would be far better than getting stuck endlessly in a traffic jam.

Yet, there is no such luck for people residing along Bannerghatta Road. The Metro line planned here is expected to take several years to be commisioned. Says a resident, Ramya Nagaraj: “Bannerghatta road is known for its full-blown traffic. Thousands of commuters struggle on this congested road for hours to reach work places and schools.”

The same story repeats in Electronics City, Silk Board Junction and Koramangala, where the only way to get from place to place is the road. Neethu Kashetter talks about the need for alternative options, such as suburban rail and the Metro. That, she says, would make life far easier. If the stations are well connected by last-mile commute options, travelling between work places, commercial centres and schools can get better.

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