Frustration dogs commuters on this stretch

A long line of vehicles waited on each side of the railway track. It appeared as if a rally was about to begin and all that needed to kick-start it was a whistle. I did hear a whistle, that of a train about to pass the crossing. After it speeds across, the vehicles rev to life. As the gates slowly go up, impatient commuters start pushing ahead with an air of desperation, after a wait of just four minutes.

The scene may seem amusing for an onlooker, but for those who have to travel via the Allalsandra Gate railway crossing near Yelahanka daily, it sure is frustrating. It was about 10.45 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and I was almost nearing the end of my commute to Yelahanka. About an hour earlier, I had set off from Basaveshwara Circle, with a few stops in between. The Allalsandra gate was what made me feel for those commuters who need to cross that the stretch everyday. As I watched, an ambulance, with siren blaring, took all of three minutes to pass the mass of traffic around the railway gate.

The staff operating the railway gate told me that about 30 trains cross the junction every day, one every half hour. “Managing the traffic is not easy. Even as we lower the gates, the commuters try to squeeze past,” one said.

Above this stretch of road is the elevated Express Highway, a smoother ride compared to the chaotic scene near the railway crossing. At a junction of the highway, I see a few airport taxis parked. The drivers tell me it takes at least 90 minutes for them to ferry passengers from the Bengaluru International Airport to the city’s central business district.

If it was frustrating for commuters, the pedestrians have a tougher time. With no pedestrian crossing near the railway gate, many of them walk uphill through a mud road lined with bushes and emerge on the elevated express highway. It is the same for pedestrians who cross towards Yelahanka.

Abdul Basheer was one of those who took the mud road and came on to the elevated highway. He says he is heading to GKVK and whenever he needs to cross, this is his usual route.

At the start of my 13 km two-wheeler ride at 9.33 am, I had set off, expecting jam-packed roads but surprisingly had a relatively hassle-free experience as I coasted through Race Course Road and Bellary Road. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the commuters on the other side of Bellary Road were a frustrated lot as it was choc-a-block with traffic by 10 a.m.

Some of the traffic police manning the stretch also pointed out the insufficient width of the Hebbal flyover near Hiranyapalya which slowed vehicular movement. “One or two buses come on to the road at the same time and this adds to the congestion. Also, there are hardly any pedestrian crossings on the road. In the evenings, it is difficult for pedestrians as many vehicle drivers can’t even see them standing on the road after 7 p.m. when there is peak hour traffic. It is especially difficult for senior citizens,” said M. Palaksha, a traffic policeman.

Another problem that is easy to spot is the slow moving traffic near the CBI bus-stand which is located close to where the flyover begins. Even a few buses stopping there automatically slow down traffic as other vehicles cannot move freely close to the junction.

More In: Bangalore