The civic agencies’ efforts to ease traffic congestion at major junctions in the city have received mixed reactions from motorists. While some say the short-term measures are working, there are others who say only long-term measures will help. But experts feel that authorities should give impetus to popularising public transport to push people to shift from private vehicles.
In the last decade, the vehicle numbers increased exponentially in the city and road infrastructure built has not been sufficient to accommodate the growing number. In 2012-13, the total number of vehicles registered was 55.26 lakh, and it has crossed over 1.04 crore now.
In 2020-21, a total of 2,55,624 two-wheelers were registered in the city; the number jumped to 2,57,983 in the previous financial year (2021-22). The number of new cars registered jumped from 95,875 to 1,11,774 in the same period. Data from the Transport Department shows that two-wheeler registrations increased by 3.87% and cars registration by 5.36%.
Ashish Verma, convener, IISc Sustainable Transportation Lab, said, “Adding only road infrastructure will never solve the problem of the traffic congestion in the city. The State government should think of attending to core issues. There is a need for policy decisions to reduce the number of vehicles hitting the road and shifting people to public transport. The fundamental approach should be scaling up use of public transport by incentivising it and discouraging people from using private transport that occupies more road space and consumes more energy.”
“Cities in many parts of the globe have already taken policy measures that discourage people from opting for private vehicles by imposing more taxes, prioritising public transport and others,” he added. Bengaluru has close to 70 lakh two wheelers and 30 lakh cars.
Growing traffic hits city bus services
The rapid increase in the number of vehicles in the city has adversely impacted the operational efficiency of the city buses. BMTC officials say the fuel efficiency has dropped from 4.3 km per litre to 3.7 km and the average speed of buses are running during peak hours is around 10kmph. Earlier, a bus used to cover a distance of over 200 km per day. This has reduced to 170 km. The BMTC is also forced to cancel trips due to growing congestion.
“After the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of vehicles plying on the road was comparatively lesser. Now, more vehicles are hitting the road, impacting our operations. Recent measures taken by various government bodies helped at many junctions like Central Silk Board, K.R. Puram junction, and others as buses are parked at designated places. The traffic police are helping us in a big way. We have been asking for bus priority lanes on 12 corridors, but it is not an easy task to implement,” said Surya Sen A.V., Director (IT), BMTC.
Dattatraya T. Devare of Bangalore Environment Trust said that regulating parking space, providing last and first mile connectivity to Namma Metro, completing the suburban rail project within a deadline of 40 months, and extending the bus priority lane to other roads in the city would help in a big way. He has also demanded that the State government implement a comprehensive mobility plan for the benefit of the general public.
Chief Civic Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath said augmenting public transport was given the highest priority at the city-level inter-agency meetings to ease traffic.
“Without augmenting public transport, the volumes of private vehicles are going to go on skyrocketing, making traffic management a nightmare. Increasing the fleet of BMTC, giving them priority on the road and formulating a public policy that will make public transport cheaper are all part of the agenda. What we are presently doing at the junctions are only immediate short-term measures at those particular bottlenecks, which has already resulted in an improvement of nearly 20% of congestion at these specific junctions,” he said.