Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why the roads are so choked

Why the roads are so choked

The Hindu

Every third person owns a private vehicle

BANGALORE: It is a typical egg or chicken situation — did insufficient public transport propel private vehicles or was it the excessive presence of private vehicles on Bangalore roads that prevented the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) from providing adequate service? This when the number of vehicles in the city has touched almost three million, a 30-fold increase from 1,08,437 in 1976.

Of the 28-lakh vehicles in Bangalore as on November 30, 2006, 25 lakh are private vehicles — 21 lakh two-wheelers and four lakh cars. For a population of 75 lakh in Bangalore, every third person owns a private vehicle. And this speaks a lot for public transport in the city.

Thus, Bangalore has achieved the credit of becoming the second city to have the highest number of vehicles, next only to Delhi (4.3 million).

Public transport

Public transport, largely provided by buses, did not get the attention of the Government if one goes by the increase in the number of buses over the last 30 years. While there was only a 14-fold increase in the number of buses from 3,487 in 1976 to 42,058 in 2006, there was nearly a 25-fold increase in the number of private vehicles from 86,000 to 25 lakh during the period.

Of the 42,000 buses registered in Bangalore, only around 4,000 BMTC buses offer real public transport while the rest are either factory buses, private buses or buses run by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Autorickshaws, numbering around 90,000, are the other major mode of transport. The vehicle numbers began to increase exponentially from 1998. The boom in automobile sector appears to have coincided with economic liberalisation and a thriving software industry. Beginning 2003, an average of 40,000 cars was added every year.

It was initially the failure of the BMTC to provide adequate public transport. Industry experts feel that the corporation took a long time to comprehend the situation and by the time it did it was too late. By the time BMTC was carved out of the KSRTC in 1997, the roads in the city had started to get overcrowded with private vehicles.

BMTC now cries hoarse over insufficient road space and blames private vehicles for it. However, people feel private modes of travel are reliable and cheaper compared to BMTC's services.


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