Worrying findings on Bengaluru traffic

Worrying findings on Bengaluru traffic

Bengaluru is the second-most congested among Indian metros.

A recent survey confirms what residents of Bengaluru have known for some years: their city is the second-most congested among Indian metros.  The survey, which was conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in collaboration with a cab aggregator company, drew on responses of around 300 commuters in each of several cities in the region. Its findings are worrying.  Road congestion at peak hours in Indian metros is 149% higher than in cities in Southeast Asia.  How does this impact the Indian commuter? Congested roads slow down traffic and increase travel time. On an average an Indian commuter takes 1.5 times longer to travel a given stretch during peak hours than during non-peak hours. Its implications are enormous. There are high social costs of congestion to be borne. These include time delays, extra fuel spent, wear and tear of vehicles and roads, as well as environmental impact. Traffic congestion in Bengaluru inflicts social costs of Rs 38,000 crore, while such social costs for Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru together amounts to Rs 1.44 lakh crore. What makes this amount distressing is that this cost is not inevitable. Indeed, it is avoidable and thus merits attention and action. Of particular concern is the fact that traffic congestion in Indian cities is growing rapidly. A growing number of people are opting for private vehicles and this can be expected to increase congestion.  

Growing population density and poor public transport is responsible for traffic congestion. In India, public transport has not kept pace with demand for transport. This has forced people to buy their own means of transport.  With loans easily available, a rising number of people are purchasing motorbikes, scooters and cars. Those who want to avoid the stress of driving prefer taking an auto-rickshaw or cab. The survey suggests ride sharing as a solution to traffic congestion and points to the enormous scope for this option. Indeed sharing cab rides will reduce traffic on roads, wastage of petrol and air pollution. However, the benefits of ride sharing are limited. Safety of passengers will be at peril. 

Much of the crowding of our roads during peak hours these days is because people are substituting their own vehicles with commuting to work in cabs. Some of this congestion can be tackled if people would opt for car pooling to work. But the most effective way of tackling traffic congestion is by opting for mass public transport. This would require the government to invest more in buses, suburban trains and metro lines. While these require large investment, mass public transport is cost-effective option. It provides a long-term solution to the problem. Additionally, the quality of our roads needs improvement.

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