Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How practicable are the measures proposed to decongest roads?

How practicable are the measures proposed to decongest roads?

K.V. Subramanya and Anil Kumar Sastry

BANGALORE: Even as several projects to decongest roads and provide a fillip to public transport system are under government consideration, a big question mark hangs over the practicability of many of these plans.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority, headed by the Chief Secretary, is examining the 39 proposals, including 17 medium-term and 12 long-term measures, made by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation in consultation with the Bangalore Traffic Police and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.

Some of the important proposals are: designation of 12 “no-autorickshaw zones” in the core area; levying congestion charges on vehicles entering highly congested areas; banning parking of private vehicles on roads; regulation to keep vehicles with even and odd registration numbers off the roads on alternative days; construction of bus bays; introduction of quota system for purchase of new cars and earmarking dedicated corridors for buses.

Successful implementation of most of these measures depends on effective enforcement. As several measures initiated in the recent years to ease traffic woes have not yielded the desired results owing to poor enforcement, uncertainty clouds the implementation of the proposed plans. Lack of adequate human resources, modern technology and gadgets in the traffic wing of the city police are mainly contributing to poor enforcement.

Highly-placed sources in the city police told The Hindu that they are severely short-staffed and require an additional 1,500 personnel to meet the present challenges. With the available staff and gadgets it would be practically impossible for the police to enforce the proposed measures such as parking ban, regulating vehicles with odd and even numbers and levying congestion tax, they said.

Inspector-General of Police (Karnataka State Human Rights Commission) M.N. Reddi, an expert on traffic management, says that collecting congestion tax from vehicles entering the congested areas would be a laborious process and cannot take off in the near future.

It would require installation of several cameras to monitor the movement of vehicles. Smart cards should be issued to vehicle owners for paying the levy. There could be a pile up of vehicles at the entry points where the levy is collected, he observes.
Bus bays

However, all the proposals are not infeasible. For instance, the BMTC has already released Rs. 2 crore to the BBMP for constructing 140 bus bays across the city to prevent buses picking and dropping passengers on the middle of the road, thus hampering smooth flow of traffic.

It has also identified 265 km of roads in the city, including the outer ring roads, where dedicated corridors could be created for buses as it would increase the speed level of buses, reduce travel time, encourage public transport and thereby reduce dependence of private vehicles.


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