Degrees of difficulty for Bengaluru’s commuters

Educational attainment and a longer trip to work go hand-in-hand in the congested IT capital.

August 04, 2019 12:42 am | Updated 12:42 am IST - Bengaluru

Longer rides: Qualified job-seekers place greater emphasis on suitability of the assignment, regardless of the distance.

Longer rides: Qualified job-seekers place greater emphasis on suitability of the assignment, regardless of the distance.

The higher your educational qualifications, the longer your work commute. That, in essence, is the finding reported in a working paper on mobility in one of India’s most congested cities, Bengaluru, by researchers from the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC).

Interviews with 470 people in five sectors — government, IT, Industrial, Trade and Commerce, and the unorganised sector — were used to determine commuting distances and modes. “An educated person will search for jobs where his or her qualifications fit. This may result in fewer options nearer their homes,” said Kala S. Sridhar, Professor, Centre for Research in Urban Affairs at the ISEC, who carried out the study, along with Shivakumar Nayka, a doctoral student.

Priorities change

The researchers found that married men have a longer commute. While single men are ready to live in paying guest accommodation close to their workplace, their priorities change once they get married. Men are also likely to travel longer distances than women.

Unlike people with higher education qualifications, those in the unorganised sector without degrees work within five km of home.

The commute to work required 42.45 minutes for about 10.84 km. This is an increase from around 40 minutes in 2001. Peak hours add on average six minutes to the commute one-way. Over 95% working in government, or in trade and commerce, move in peak time, while in the industrial sector, 66% of workers have peak-hour travel. That figure falls to just 10% for IT and 6% for the informal sector.

Also, 41.91% of commuters used public transport, and a quarter used two-wheelers. Over 10% of commuters walked to work, highlighting the need for better pedestrian infrastructure, the authors of the study said.

Using workplace interviews, they got first hand information on high traffic density spots and these were mapped using GIS. In 2015, the Traffic Police identified eight major corridors of high vehicular movement. The study, however, identified 52 spots that faced severe problems. “The waiting times for traffic here are between five minutes and 20 minutes, with the St. John’s junction experiencing a 20-minute wait, the longest time to cross a point,” said Mr. Nayka.

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