BENGALURU: Bumper-to-bumper traffic, smoke-emitting diesel vehicles, footpath riding, haphazard parking...Life on Bengaluru roads is back to normal post Covid. While traffic police say there’s a surge in the number of private vehicles plying on roads between Tuesday and Friday, location technology specialist TomTom finds that Saturday sees the worst rush hours. Office goers vouch for their Monday miseries, especially on arterial roads as Bengalurueans return after the weekend. This means motorists are spared of the ordeal only on Sunday. TOI spoke to experts and listed out some reasons for the increasing number of private vehicles and spike in traffic congestion.Return to office “Many professionals, mostly from IT and BT firms, work from the office during most weekdays. Several choose to work from home on Friday (at least half a day) and Monday (full day); some of them would have gone out of the city or would plan to do so during the weekend,” a senior traffic police official said. “This trend is seen in areas like Whitefield, Electronics City, Marathahalli, Koramangala, Mahadevapura, BTM Layout, Manyata Tech Park, etc.” Reopening of schools Roads in many CBD areas are choked on most days due to inadequate or no parking space on school premises. While management claims they advise parents to stay in less than 5km radius of the school, the latter point to the lack of walkable pavements, bicycle tracks and safe pedestrian crossings for children near schools. Though many experts have suggested hybrid classes, most schools are keen on offline lessonsRain factor When it rains, the city’s public transport system literally crumbles: BMTC finds it difficult to complete trips and the waiting time is usually more. Leaky and overcrowded buses, flooded roads and bus shelters without proper roofing/lighting are disincentives for users. Many cab and auto drivers refuse to accept rides, leaving passengers stranded. For these reasons, motorists prefer to switch to their own vehicles Inadequate public transport BMTC operates 5,600 of its 6,700 buses due to shortage of drivers. Namma Metro has only 56km operational network and suburban rail is still on the drawing board. App-based cabs and autorickshaws are unreliable, while regular ones demand excess fare. Bengaluru has no shared autos or meter-run taxis unlike other big cities. BMTC also does not operate adequate Metro feeder buses
Potholes, waterlogged underpasses
Most roads are filled with potholes or uneven stretches, slowing down traffic movement. Most underpasses, especially those built by the railways, get flooded during rain. While BBMP and railways blame each other, road users are left to negotiate knee-deep water. Many two-wheeler riders have shifted to cars due to potholes and poor roads that have even caused a few fatal accidents Virus scare, more gig workers Many switched from public transport to their own vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, for safety reasons during the pandemic. Two-wheelers are also a cheaper and faster mode of transport. E-commerce platforms are increasingly hiring gig workers with two-wheelers to cover more distances Infra work, no alternative roads Unplanned work undertaken by multiple civic agencies without proper coordination is taking a toll on road users. However, no alternative/bypass roads have been identified. Illegal parking is on the rise, but traffic police have stopped towing vehicles Cycle track, bus lane not maintained Experts say dedicated bus and cycle lanes on major arterial roads will help people embrace public transport. However, bollards for bus lane and pop-up cycle lane between Central Silk Board and KR Puram have been dismantled Ravi Gadepalli, public transport consultant “Vehicle ownership in the city has increased after Covid-19. In Europe, vehicle ownership may be high but usage is less due to better public transport. Inadequate public transport is also forcing many people to use their own vehicles” Ashwin Mahesh, urban mobility activist “An average of 1,000 people are moving into Bengaluru every day; BMTC should ideally add three buses a day. Its fleet strength should reach at least 15,000 to meet global standards. If the government adds more buses and provides walkable streets, road space will open up
Times view Delegates from across the world congregated in Bengaluru for the Invest Karnataka meet. And their main talking points were the city’s traffic and weather. Bengaluru is blessed with good weather, but is infamous for traffic jams. While Metro and suburban rail are the answer, they are seeing slow progress. The city needs more walkable pavements and buses. Doubling the bus fleet and expansion of pavements and cycle tracks won’t cost too much. Also, real-time tracking of buses and cashless travel should be encouraged so that more passengers shift to public transport. But is there political will to do this?