Friday, August 28, 2009

Fix flaws in traffic management

Fix flaws in traffic management

Although the traffic police are satisfied with the speedy changes the BTRAC is bringing about in traffic management, experts say there are glaring glitches which need to be addressed. Soumya Menon reports

Soumya Menon

THE Bangalore City traffic police have an automated system in place to receive, process and disseminate traffic information round the clock and formulate plans for smooth flow of vehicles.
But ask motorists and commuters about how these technological changes have impacted them. Most will say they can't decide which road to take or to avoid and the best time to travel to get to their destinations easier, faster and safer.
Experts say there are some glitches to be tackled even as the traffic police are in full swing to meet the deadlines of the Bangalore Traffic Improvement Project (BTRAC).
The traffic police chief claims there has been improvement in traffic management in the city in the last 15 months after the BTRAC project began. "The major components of the project like surveillance cameras, enforcement cameras, signals, street furniture will be done by the end of this year," said Praveen Sood, additional commissioner of police (traffic).
"The project, which was to start in 2006-07, was delayed by a year. It is a five-year project which will cost Rs350 crore. The funds for next year are yet to be released," he said.
"We've completed 60% to 70% of work related to painting median markers and other street furniture. All the cameras and signals will be connected to the traffic management centre by next month."
The area where work has slowed down is the variable message sign boards which are to be installed in 20 locations across the city.
"The pilot project carried out on Devanahalli Road towards the Bangalore International Airport did not work out as the software was of low quality. The recession too affected this work as the software had to be imported," he said.
Asked if the project had brought about major changes in traffic management, providing smooth flow of traffic, the additional commissioner said the impact was less due to the ongoing work which includes Namma Metro and other infrastructure projects on prime roads across the city.
"Once they are completed, the changes will be visible. Areas like the Old Airport Road, Hosur Road, Sarjapur Road, Koramangala, Devanahalli, and ring roads have seen the changes," Sood said. "The central area of Bangalore like MG Road, which connects the city from one end to the other, is still in a shambles as major work is going on there," he said. "At least 75% of the road is not available for traffic movement. Roads like Palace Road, Race Course Road, and Jayamahal Road witness smooth traffic movement without many signals," he said.
Traffic expert and adviser MN Sreehari says there is overlapping of sign boards at various places. "Five boards exist at one place which causes confusion for road users. It has to be placed in proper scientific locations," he said.
Many surveillance and enforcement cameras go blind at night.
"Most violations like over-speeding and accidents occur at night. These cameras don't record anything," he said. "The shelf life of data recorded during day time is less and should be extended to at least a month," Sreehari said.
Vehicle-actuated signals, which have been installed in some places, are not working properly. "The signal poles in the city are of various colours. They have to be yellow according to Indian Road Congress," he said.
"The traffic police should also include electronic bill boards as part of the BTRAC project integrated with Global Positioning System (GPS)," he said.
He also suggested that more traffic personnel should be recruited and trained. The department should also include education and awareness programmes for road users in BTRAC.


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