Sunday, July 24, 2005

Car-pooling: red signal to traffic woes?

Car-pooling: red signal to traffic woes?
Traffic snarls have become order of the day with Bangalore expanding exponentially. While one-ways and traffic diversion are only temporary measures to ease chaos, here is an attempt to provide a long-term solution to the problem.

The Times of India

Bangalore: Car-pooling and ride-sharing can decongest Bangalore’s roads. But it does not often suit the IT industry that has a flexible, round-the-clock working style and schedules depending on projects and delivery deadlines.

Take a look at these statistics. The city has over 2 lakh IT professionals. Around 20 per cent of them use their own cars, 34 per cent use two-wheelers, 40 per cent use company provided conveyance (buses, mini vans, matadors and other multi-utility vehicles), less than 5 per cent travel by public transport, while a little over 1 per cent (over 2,000 people) go in for ride-sharing.

But now, after the police call for “city de-congestion,’’ will the share of car-pooling in the city grow substantially? Not really. “Agreed IT is a labour intensive industry, but tech firms do not work like traditional factories, where the time is fixed. We have a very flexible work timings. It’s just that we need to meet our deadlines in time,’’ says a software engineer in Wipro.

Many agree that joint-rides are joy rides. True that they save you from a great deal of traffic problems and stress.

However, it has its own pains, say techies. Finding right and permanent riding partners is a challenge, to start with. Even after that, things are not easy. For instance, a knowledge worker team of Varun Sachdev, Malini Sen, Pradeep Kurian and Hemanth Sahay, worked out a car-pooling arrangement six months ago. “It worked for a few weeks. Then, invariably, we kept on waiting for each other to complete the work. Finally, we realised that it won’t work. Eventually, we dumped it,’’ says one of them.

Despite all this, employees are willing to experiment with car-pooling. “Many people find it hassle free,’’ says Navaratan Khataria, a car pooling organiser.

At this point of time, car-pooling is not a company initiative. Where it’s happening, it’s driven by employees. However, many companies like Wipro are encouraging the concept. Some employees of Philips Software, Cisco Systems, HP, Intel, IBM, Oracle and PSI Data Systems are also using the system.

Can school model fit here?

Bangalore: After successfully implementing the ‘safe route to school’ project near seven schools located in the busy areas of the city, the traffic police are now contemplating with an idea to extend the same to IT companies and BPO staffers.

“We have suggested to the Confederation of Indian Industries to study the ‘safe route to school’ project and come out with a similar plan for the IT employees in the city,” a senior police officer said.

Ban on parking private vehicles within 200 metre vicinity of schools during school working hours has brought much relief to road users. Similar relief can be provided to motorists in the IT corridor if all software companies provide air conditioned buses to their employees for travel (from home to office and back) and make it compulsory, the officer adds.

A study conducted by the traffic police sometime ago on Hosur Road revealed that a large number of techies drive big cars to travel towards Electronic City and occupy a major chunk of road space. If they opt for a bus, there will be less congestion on the road the police said.

Apart from this, a large number of techies and BPO staffers travelling on bikes have met with accidents. These days, a large number of techies travelling on motorcycles are being trageted by robbers during night and bus travel will bring down these incidents of crime, another inspector said.

“IT companies should stop paying conveyance allowance to their employees and arrange for bus travel,” a senior police officer suggested and said “We have brought this point to the notice of CII.”


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