Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bangalore is a bumper-to-bumper gridlock.

Bangalore is a bumper-to-bumper gridlock. There’s been a phenomenal increase in cars over the past one year. But can the roads take the additional strain? Ambarish B finds out

Bangalore is becoming another Delhi: Two-wheelers are giving way to cars.
The city has witnessed a sudden dip in registration of two-wheelers, for, consumers prefer cars now. During 2006-07, the registration of four-wheelers has seen a 15% growth while the two-wheelers have recorded just a 10% growth.
This sudden change has been attributed to the economic change over the years. Though the number of two-wheelers still dominates, the decline in the growth of registration is obvious.
According to statistics available with the transport department, in one year the sale of cars has shot up to 13%. From a modest 3.26 lakh cars registered in 2005, the number has gone to 4 lakh in 2006, and it has already crossed 4.8 lakh in 2007 (till August). The outlook for the current year looks bullish going by statistics.
Two-wheelers, on the other hand, have shown a poor performance. From 16 lakh registered in 2006, the number just reached 18 lakh. “The registration of two-wheelers is really high in rural parts of Karnataka. But, as seen in other big cities, in Bangalore too cars seem to dominate the roads. However, the major occupants of the city roads will be two-wheelers. This year, 21 lakh twowheelers have already been registered, but cars aren’t lagging behind,’’ joint commissioner (transport department) M K Aiyappa told the Times of India.
The easy loan facility and generous banks have partly encouraged Bangaloreans to go in for cars. According to officials, by the end of the year, the number of cars for registration would touch 6-7 lakh. “It is very easy to avail of a bank loan now, which influences a potential two-wheeler buyer to go for a car,’’ said another official.
Another reason why the four-wheelers are taking over city roads is that BPOs and ITES companies hire cars to ferry their employees.
The picture is quite different in other cities of the state: While there are 31 lakh two-wheelers, there are 2.8 lakh cars. Registrationwise also, it is the two-wheelers which rule the roads.
Where’s the space?
This car-ward trend poses some problems. The city doesn’t have enough space to accommodate the already registered vehicles. Bangalore and its immediate suburbs together have a road length of around 4,200 km. But the width of the roads and their surfacing are inadequate to accommodate growing number of vehicles, according to a study by Indian Road Congress.
This means additional burden on the already congested city roads. Traffic experts say one solution is for employees of IT, ITES and other large-scale companies to switch over to mass transportation.
“Road occupancywise, one car is equivalent to three two-wheelers. Traffic police and transport department are holding talks with IT and ITES companies and BPOs to chalk out strategies to improve transport system.
It would be better if companies encourage employees to opt for mass transportation, instead of personalised one,’’ a traffic expert said.
Cash registers are ringing at the transport department. More cars means more revenue for the department. The department has achieved a 3% revenue more than the target. In 2006-07 alone, the department collected Rs 1,417.86 crore revenue against the target of Rs 1,375 crore. Two-wheelers which cost less than Rs 50,000 are being charged 8% of the cost of the vehicle as registration tax, whereas cars are taxed from 11-14% of vehicle cost. As the registration of cars and also import of cars have gone up, the department has achieved a little more revenue this time.


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