Wednesday, January 23, 2008

10 short-term steps to improve lawless roads

10 short-term steps to improve lawless roads
Let’s not depend on long-term projects such as the Metro to resolve all traffic problems, says M N Reddi

Good things are slated to happen to Bangalore in the long run, by way of the Metro, rapid transit buses, new ring roads and flyovers. These projects require long gestation periods. Therefore, short-term measures to improve the condition of traffic become particularly important.
Some of these measures, which can be implemented in a very short period of about six months, sans major costs, are as follows:
1 Rapid opening up and upgradation of ring roads: The absence of an efficient ring road system forces traffic going beyond the city to traverse the city’s inner roads, causing the congestion that we see today. Pending issues pertaining to privately built roads need to be addressed. Ring roads would absorb a huge amount of traffic, including truck traffic now flowing on the city’s inner roads. This will make for a big difference in vehicular movement, particularly in the western, central, southern and eastern parts. Steel flyovers can be used to ease congestion.
2 Segregation and regulation of s auto rickshaws: For the convenience of the travelling public, an inner-city mini bus system should be simultaneously introduced, with an inter-modal transfer facility so that an efficient alternative is provided. Autos should be banned on the identified grid network of major roads for high-speed traffic movement, particularly in inner city areas. Alternative roads should be identified for the movement of autos. An exclusive auto lane system should be implemented.
3 Central area traffic pattern: The traffic police should work constantly at reforming the pattern in the central area. Since traffic management is largely related to junction management (apart from parking regulations), reducing the entry movements at intersections from four to three and eventually two, by introducing more one-ways, is the only way out in the central area. However, we need to grow beyond a single-road approach and adopt an integrated area approach. 4 Smart, coordinated signal system: Signals are the backbone of traffic management system in any big city. Bangalore needs to rapidly upgrade the existing outdated signals into a modern and proven area traffic control (ATC) system, where computers at the Central Traffic Management Centre intelligently manage signals by adapting their timings to changing traffic flows. This forms the core of the ongoing B-TRAC 2010 project, which should be implemented in letter and spirit.
5 Parking management: This needs to be improved by rapidly demarcating on- and offstreet parking lots, privatising parking operations, banning parking on major and sub-arterial roads and clamping down on parking violations. Parking Information Systems (PIS), which gives online and accurate information on vacancies through electronic billboards as well as SMS, can be introduced at short notice. Park-and-ride facilities can be introduced at BMTC depots as well as other places to provide transfer facility to ordinary and Volvo buses.
6 Road improvements: Providing road medians will help streamline traffic flow, increase speed, avoid frequent turns, reduce junctions and naturally dissuade parking violations. Short cement medians can be rapidly deployed on at least 500 km of roads in the city in about six months. This will significantly improve the traffic situation. Important road stretches requiring urgent asphalting need to be identified by the BBMP and Traffic Police and taken up on a war footing. Road marking, signage and bus bays on government lands need to be introduced quickly. 7 Bangalore Transport Information System (BTIS): One of the quicker ways of tackling traffic jams is to provide current or advance information to drivers on the traffic situation ahead. This information can then help the road user take intelligent decisions regarding alternate route choices, rather than blindly move on and add to the existing traffic jam with no option to choose an alternative route at that stage. Under the B-TRAC 2010, this has successfully been tested on a trial route, involving a rare application of existing cellphone technology to manage urban transport problems. 8 Blackberrys and automated enforcement: As long as traffic laws are not effectively enforced, all other measures of improvement will either be ineffective or their utility lessened. For example, even if roads are widened, the additional space obtained at great cost will be unavailable to road users if parking violations are allowed to take place. Similarly, dedicated auto lanes, if not enforced, may actually reduce the active road space available. In spite of booking over two million violations a year, we don’t see any fear of law on Bangalore’s roads.
9 Public interface: People want to express their complaints, give suggestions, be consulted and be informed about plans and programmes to improve traffic. The present arrangements for the same are woefully inadequate.
10 Traffic Management Centre (TMC): The nodal point of most of the above activities has to be a well equipped and state-of-theart TMC run 24/7. It will function as a centralized automated enforcement centre which a) receives thousands of traffic violation reports from field constabulary and camera systems everyday b) instantly generates and dispatches challans to the offenders and c) guides field officers on tracking repeated offenders. It will perform traffic monitoring through monitoring cameras and generate inputs for field action.
The writer is former additional commissioner of police (traffic) FEEDBACK
Better planning needed to ease transport woes
Instead of constructing a highspeed rail to run at 160 kmph to BIAL at the cost of Rs 4,000 crores, the existing rail track to Chikkaballapur should be best used. If this is not possible, then instead of a dedicated airport rail link, a new metro rail link via Vyyalikaval, Sadashivnagar, Dollars Colony, Sanjaynagar, Sahakar Nagar, Yelahanka, Devanahalli and finally touching BIAL can be constructed. We can have special bogies dedicated for BIAL passengers for this. Most delegates and company executives use taxis since it is paid from their companies. Very few people use public transport to reach the airport. Vasanth Kumar R | via e-mail EXPERTSPEAK To tackle traffic menace effectively, we need to set up a traffic monitoring cell or agency (TMC/A). Cities in developed countries have the concept of the TMC which will have information on the traffic scenario and to clear traffic proposals. Every citizen should leave their private vehicles behind to get accustomed to mass transportation system. This will solve congestion to a great extent. In the present scenario, private vehicles have outnumbered public transportation. Citizens should take mass transportation at least, twice a week. Civic agencies like BBMP, KUIDFC, traffic police should be brought under a single umbrella for better understanding of the problem.
Any problem has to be assessed in two categories — short term and sustainable solution. Short term plans like having pre-cast element underpasses have to be planned which is economically viable. However, before having such underpasses it is necessary to study its success and to what extent it serves the purpose. Latest technology like prestressed concrete box could be used for underpass construction. This technology which is strong enough to withstand traffic volume helps to build underpasses quickly. Masterplans for traffic management is very vital. The masterplan should be in place before construction of satellite towns. Road widening provisions should be made in the master plan to avoid any hindrance. Fitness certificate should be mandatory for vehicles which are 15 years old. These vehicles should produce fitness certificate every six months. Alternate day system (using vehicles on alternate day basis) should be introduced to keep a check on the vehicles on the road.


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