Tuesday, October 13, 2009

As autos keep off roads, traffic eases 40%, public suffers 100%

As autos keep off roads, traffic eases 40%, public suffers 100%

But traffic experts say taking autorickshaws off city roads on a permanent basis is possible only if there is an alternative mass transport system to take passengers to interiors. The fares it charges from public, especially from jobless women and old people, should be reasonable, Soumya Menon reports

Soumya Menon

THE autorickshaw strike on Monday highlighted a problem and provided a solution. The problem: Lack of a major public transport system to ferry passengers to interior areas. The solution: Traffic movement eased by at least 40% with most autorickshaws off the city roads.
Experts say taking autorickshaws off the roads is a step to ease road chaos only if there are alternatives like the operation of mini-buses or taxis.
Additional commissioner of police (traffic) Praveen Sood said Bangalore roads would provide seamless traffic without autorickshaws. "However, it is not true that congestion in Bangalore is solely due to autorickshaws as there are infrastructural problems too. But when 1.15 lakh autorickshaws are off the roads, it will reduce congestion to a large extent. On Monday, 80,000 autorickshaws went on strike, out of the 86,000 registered ones. The rest 20,000 plus vehicles are running illegally. Each autorickshaw makes at least a minimum of 10 trips every day which amounts to 15 lakh autorickshaws in major parts of the city," he said.
"The presence of autorickshaws will automatically create confusion. By eliminating them from city roads, the traffic movement will move 10km faster and easier," said Sood.
Although Bangalore has a well-networked bus service as an important public transport system, most commuters depend on autorickshaws. In Mumbai, autorickshaws are banned from entering central business districts and areas. Although this has been suggested by traffic experts for Bangalore, it was rejected. According to Sood, this is because there is no alternative for autorickshaws.
"In Mumbai, trains are a robust mass transportation system and there are taxis plying in areas where autorickshaws are not allowed. In Bangalore, there is no such substitute, wherein short trips can be made. Autorickshaws are, therefore, a vital component of the city's transport system," he said.
When asked if the Namma Metro will work as a substitute, Sood said it would partially help, but since they ply only on arterial roads, there has to be an alternative mode of transport for people to reach interior areas. Traffic experts claim that by just increasing the services, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses cannot replace autos.
Traffic expert and adviser, MN Sreehari, said although traffic eased on Monday, it created confusion among commuters.
"Housewives, employed women, and old people, who depend on autos, will have to hire cabs which charge more. The Namma Metro will help in taking autorickshaws off the road as the new rule will prevent autorickshaws from plying on the alignment of these trains. This will be an automatic process. But there cannot be an alternative for autorickshaws in Bangalore," Sreehari said.

Most Students are still able to attend their schools on time
Car-pooling, public transport and school buses saved the day at most educational institutions. Most parents had organised for alternative modes of transport.
"I arranged for my son to be dropped by a neighbour whose son also attends the same school because I have to leave early for work. However, I left early from work to pick the kids up after school," said Keerthi Prasad, a parent. Since most schools have their own fleet of school buses, the strike did not pose a problem.
"We did not face any attendance problem due to auto strike. Most private schools have vans and buses at their disposal, so this strike is not likely to cause any problem for students," said LS Sharma, principal of Vani Education Centre.
"We did not see any fall in attendance because of the auto strike," said Saroja Sridhar, secretary of Athena Public School. The availability of school buses ensured that students were not inconvenienced. "The auto strike does not affect our school because we are located on the outskirts. So auto is not an option for parents. Not a single student comes to our school by auto," said M Srinivasan, principal of GEAR Innovative International School.
A few parents chose to keep their children at home because they were unsure about transport. "I didn't send my daughter to school because of the strike. Even if I dropped them at school, I wouldn't be able to pick them up on time because of work," said Sangeetha R, a parent. College students were also unaffected by the strike. Most carpooled or hitched rides with friends who had bikes. But a few hostellers, who were unaware of the strike, were left stranded.


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