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Congestion pricing for Chennaiites soon?

Staff Reporter
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Civic body approves study for solutions to ease traffic chaos on city roads

JammedOne of the options under consideration is congestion pricing, which will involve charging users who travel on busy roads at peak hours—Photo: R. Ragu
JammedOne of the options under consideration is congestion pricing, which will involve charging users who travel on busy roads at peak hours—Photo: R. Ragu

The Chennai Corporation is all out to tackle one of the city’s chronic irritants — traffic jams.

On Friday, the Corporation, at its council meeting, passed a resolution for a study to analyse various means through which clogging on the city’s roads can be reduced.

An array of traffic control solutions such as congestion pricing, a bus rapid transit system, public bicycle-sharing and inter-modal integration may soon be implemented, based on models in China and Singapore.

A team of seven Corporation engineers will visit Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Singapore to study traffic solutions adopted in these cities.

The engineers are: R. Jayaraman, D. Rajasekhar, S. Rajendran, S. Sudhakar, A.S. Murugan, R. Manoharan and R. Srinivasan.

The study, which will cost Rs. 20 lakh, is expected to produce practical solutions, which will then be implemented to ensure traffic management in the city is on par with other international metropolises.

The engineers will be assisted by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy as well as a few other non-governmental organisations.

Many of the 354 km of bus routes and 5,563 km of interior roads are likely to be covered under the new proposal, which will primarily involve congestion pricing.

Congestion pricing involves a surcharge for users of transport when the system is in excessive demand, such as during peak hours.

It could involve charges for those using private vehicles on crowded roads and is aimed at reducing the number of vehicles on such roads in order to ease congestion.

“Congestion pricing models have been successful in cities such as Singapore and London. While Singapore has electronic road pricing, Hong Kong has a very good inter-modal transport integration system. Every city has various options, and all of them are trying them in various degrees,” said Raj Cherubal of CitiConnect.

“In the 1960s, London started congestion pricing. Though it was opposed at first, one mayor finally managed to implement it,” said a senior traffic expert.

“In Chennai, such efforts require a lot of determination and political will by the government. Engineers were not able to implement the loop-buried vehicle activated signal on Arcot Road two decades ago, as the devices were damaged by road cuts,” he said.

He added, “Bus bays are a simple concept, but still, they have not been implemented properly. It is very difficult to implement anything here, but we have to try and experiment with various solutions for better traffic management. A lot of research has to be done before implementing any solution, including congestion pricing.”

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