Bengaluru

Over 60 lakh vehicles on Bengaluru roads, and counting …

Choked roads: According to a study, there has been an ‘alarming’ shift towards use of private vehicles in Bengaluru, as also the highest growth in the use of cars and two-wheelers. — File photo: Sudhakara Jain

Choked roads: According to a study, there has been an ‘alarming’ shift towards use of private vehicles in Bengaluru, as also the highest growth in the use of cars and two-wheelers. — File photo: Sudhakara Jain   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

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Traffic is every commuter’s pet peeve. If there is a common factor that binds Bengalureans, it is complaining about traffic, no matter which part of the city they hail from. Tirades like, “At times, it takes us half an hour to just get out of Whitefield,” or “If I am fortunate enough to avoid the peak hour, I manage to reach the central business district in 40 minutes from Hebbal” are part for the course.

Those who have been living in the city for long will tell you how the time taken to travel the same distance has seen a regular increase. And there is a reason for this: Bengaluru’s traffic-choked roads are seeing an addition of roughly 5 lakh vehicles each financial year, with the total number of vehicles in Bengaluru breaching the 60-lakh mark this year. By February 2016, the number of ‘non-transport’ vehicles such as two-wheelers and cars in the city had reached 54.67 lakh.

According to Transport Department data, two-wheelers continue to dominate the city’s roads (over 41.86 lakh), followed by cars (11.8 lakh). The number of transport vehicles stands at over 5.91 lakh.

The city has seen a steady increase in the number of vehicles being registered — from 41.56 lakh in March 2012 to 55.59 lakh in March 2015, and now over 60 lakh by February 2016. Transport Department officials said at least 1 lakh more vehicles had been added to this tally this March.

‘Alarming’ shift

These statistics validate a study, ‘Urban mobility trends in Indian cities and its implications’ (published in Developing Country Perspectives on Public Service Delivery), which noted an “alarming” shift towards private vehicles in Bengaluru, as also the highest growth in the use of cars and two-wheelers.

Traffic expert M.N. Sreehari and his team also found that in 2015, the average speed on the Outer Ring Road was 4.45 km/hour, and 9 to 10 km/hour in areas around the Vidhana Soudha.

No stopping them?

“Every second person has a vehicle in Bengaluru. And the 60 lakh number is excluding the vehicles that come in and go out of the city. There seems to be no will power on the part of the government to stop this growth. It does get revenue out of the registrations,” Mr. Sreehari said. He also favoured more “permanent” solutions to the problem, in addition to infrastructural developments such as making roads pothole-free.

In 2014, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), after being pulled up by the High Court of Karnataka over checking pollution in the city, directed the Transport Department to restrict registration of new vehicles in Bengaluru until noise levels and air quality standards were met. Talks have also been on at the Central level to levy a ‘congestion tax’ on purchase of more than one vehicle, among others.

Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda, however, said though there is “thinking” on these lines, it was still at a preliminary stage. “For any of this to be done, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 has to be amended,” he said.

Total no. of vehicles in Bengaluru: February 2016: 60.59 lakh (Approximately a lakh vehicles were added in March 2016)

March 2015: 55.59 lakh

March 2014: 50.50 lakh

March 3013: 45.91 lakh

March 2012: 41.56 lakh

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Category of vehicles in 2016: Non-transport vehicles (two-wheelers, cars, etc.): 54.67 lakh

Transport vehicles: 97,418

LMV goods: 1.12 lakh

Buses: 40,365

Taxis: 1.05 lakh

Light motor vehicles: 1.91 lakh

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East has highest number of registrations

RTO (Regional Transport Office)-wise, Bengaluru East has the highest number of non-transport vehicles registered (9.12 lakh), followed by south (9.07 lakh), north (8.67 lakh) and west (8.56 lakh). The Bengaluru Central RTO lagged behind at 6.59 lakh vehicles. The least number of non-transport vehicles were registered at Nelamangala (47,458).

This could be because Bengaluru East has a larger area, including those with ‘IT activities’ and a higher purchasing capacity, which holds true for the south as well, said traffic expert M.N. Sreehari.****

Traffic management becoming a challenge

It is not just the Transport Department that is helpless; the traffic police too are bearing the brunt of the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the city’s roads and the frequent traffic snarls that Bengaluru has come to become infamous for.

R. Hitendra, Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration), who is also looking after the charge of Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), admitted that “traffic management is increasingly becoming challenging”.

The traffic police are exercising the only two options they can — increasing staff strength in existing traffic police stations and opening new police stations, he added.

Other traffic police officers, however, stressed on the need for “a larger policy” that will look at radical options to curb the number of vehicles. “The number of vehicles is going to increase in the years ahead, whether we like it or not,” said a senior traffic police officer, on condition of anonymity.

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There are over a lakh cabs in the city

Private taxis, which have grown to become a popular mode of transport in the city in recent times, have also seen a year-on-year jump in numbers, notwithstanding the frequent run-ins with the Transport Department.

The number of cabs in Bengaluru stands at over 1.05 lakh as of now, up from just 46,235 in March 2012. In fact, the number of taxis in the city is higher than that of buses (40,365).

The 24,000 jump that the number of taxis saw from 2015 to 2016 is far higher than the increase in the previous years, which was roughly around 10,000.

With cab aggregators coming into the picture, department officials said quite a number of new vehicles being registered were being attached to these aggregators after seeking permit.

Are they contributing to the traffic chaos? A senior traffic police officer said a major issue as far as private taxis were concerned was wrong parking.

“The roads are narrow as it is, and they wait on the roadside, which is an issue especially during peak hours,” he said. Acknowledging that cabs were adding to the burden, he, however, said they offered last-mile connectivity to passengers which buses probably did not.

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No. of taxis

February 2016: 1.05 lakh

March 2015: 80,204

March 2014: 66,264

March 2013: 56,890

March 2012: 46,235

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Printable version | Aug 23, 2019 5:18:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/over-60-lakh-vehicles-on-bengaluru-roads-and-counting/article8573251.ece

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