Voices from the commuter crowd

Where traffic is concerned, Bengaluru is that unruly, undisciplined kid, who is shown and asked to follow the ways of a perfectionist elder sibling.

Could Singapore fill in the shoes of that elder sibling with its traffic management system of running affordable taxi services and imposing congestion tax to check the use of personal vehicles?  Will bringing in exclusive taxi system within Bengaluru persuade commuters to ditch their vehicles during peak-hour traffic at least?

Kruthi Pandit, an MBA student, who uses her car for commuting, is open to the suggestion:“I would definitely take a taxi in the city as long as it doesn’t affect my schedule. It should be well-organised, the prices must be reasonable as against the current exorbitant amount that one needs to shell out while taking a normal taxi.”

Sudhakar Rao, Ad professional, would consider the facility too, if “they (taxis) are not rickety, on time and professional in dealing with their customers. Sharing the taxi is good as long as it doesn't make you late and is available round the clock.” He currently maintains his sanity during his three-hour / 29 km drive to work every day by listening to music. “But most of my time is utilised for managing client calls and giving them morning updates,” he adds.

“I choose to ‘bikepool’ than use a cab any day, because the latter would require me to wake up earlier to spend more time in the same traffic anyway!” Kavya Natarajan, a PR professional, exclaims. 

Hassle-free commute

Entrepreneur Shampa Ganguly seems to have found her economical transport saviour in Uber taxi service, “which costs less than the autoricksaws, are hassle-free rides and saves me from the pollution outside. I’ve been using it since five months, and I love that I work on my laptop, talk to my kid / friends without having to worry about the next traffic gridlock.” 

Her brainchild is an app called "Pparke", which lets a person pre-book a parking space within the city. Scouting for a slot contributes to traffic. And those who go rounds unable to find a spot strain the traffic eco-system. On the other hand, her husband, who travels 12 km one way (from Bommanhalli to Sarjapur Road) for work, carpools with his friend. It allows him some peace while travelling, she adds.

But Sharath M S, a software professional and cycler, feels a taxi system would be distasteful for the city. “I'm all for reducing cars in a city, but replacing them with taxis would mean big company-owned cars would fill up the streets instead of individual-owned cars. Big companies will be able to out-buy individuals and hence the average commuter would lose out at the end,” he explains.

The youth of today, says Sharath, want to cycle. “Everyone has that one (or more) friends who ride a bicycle everywhere. The biggest issue facing today's bicycle commuters is pollution. Traffic can be managed somewhat, but pollution really kills. People buy cars to beat the pollution first. Neither the traffic cops nor the State Pollution Board stop vehicles spewing ‘visible’ smoke. A clear road with little to no pollution will encourage more people to take up bicycling. Modern bicycles are super-fast, light and fairly inexpensive. So, taxis are not the solution.”

Taxi or no taxi, many feel the commute will get smoother even if the signalling system is improved. “Signals in the city should be synchronised. That would be a change with maximum return on investment. It’s sad to see the famed IT capital of our country which cost thousands of Americans their jobs have such an unresponsive signalling system.

In a developed city abroad, you will notice that once you hit a green signal, you subsequently hit green signals, given you travel at the average speed. This increases the road utilisation to a great extent. Bengaluru could use some intelligent central traffic control system," suggests Subhash V, a hardware engineer, who covers 12 km by cycle to work every day. “I’m still intimidated by it. This traffic will one day mow me down,” he adds.

Until the city takes a leaf a from a model city’s traffic book, hold on to your sanity, breathe and relax. You could start with this message (as found on an autorikshaw) that is making the rounds: “I couldn’t afford a Volkswagen. Thus, auto.”

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