Sunday, April 20, 2008

Blogathon Day 1, Sunday April 20 2008: Infrastructure-How can we improve the traffic condition in our city?

The city in this case would be Bangalore-The IT Hub of India.Just to give you an idea of the traffic condition in Bangalore, everyone in Bangalore - the auto wallah, bikers, car users, company transport users & so on curses the traffic atleast once a day.

Traffic conditions are not just a well accepted excuse for being late but are also used extensively as an ice-breaker in discussions.In you are at a party, new to your company or a first timer in Bangalore,just walk up to any random group and say "Man what traffic !!".You would be accepted immediately as a fellow sufferer and a long heated discussion on Bangalore traffic would follow.The car owners will say bikers are at fault.Bikers would say the issue is with bus drivers and auto wallahs.Bus drivers and auto wallahs would pass the blame too. All this is apart from the usual grovel on condition of roads,one-ways,lack of a public transport etc.So as evident, traffic conditions form a huge chunk of conversations across the city.

Everyone knows what the Govt should do.They should provide nice,smooth,8 lane roads throughout Bangalore.Sorry not gonna happen in the near future.Public transport i.e. Metro would take a few years to get completely operational.

However I would say that instead of these long term projects, Govt can take a look at smaller issues to take care of the bigger picture e.g. Parking Space.The Govt should take a cue from the West and invest on building parking complexes.Say we have one such parking complex in the vicinity of MG Road. All the space on Brigade Road, Church Street etc that is currently being occupied as parking for vehicles would get free leading to widening of roads for traffic as well as reduction in traffic.Ofcourse this would mean that public would have to walk for some distance.I for one would not mind it and I think many others would not either. Most of the techies in B'lore could use the exercise anyway as they spend most of their time on their desks.

Better roads automatically result in smooth flow of traffic and less congestion. Now roads like Airport Road, 100 feet Road, Banerghatta Road etc are amongst the better roads in the city.The issue starts once you leave the main road for a side street.Here the citizens can take an initiative with societies pooling in money to build the 2-3 km roads.Or corporates can undertake it as CSR (I am not really sure if it would come under CSR but I am assuming that building better roads for the society can be considered CSR)

However,having better roads is just one part of the solution.Airport Road, Marathalli Bridge etc are areas that have good roads but are forever jammed.

Let me take an example.I used to go for work by the company cab.The cab had a capacity of about 15 people but on a normal day around 7-8 seats were occupied. Many people living in the same area would come to the office late by their own vehicle. Here I believe the willingness of the citizens with a little incentive from the Govt. can work miracles.If people are willing to use the company cab by going office an hour earlier than their usual time (& coming early too), the number of vehicles on the road would go down.One of the reasons why people prefer their own vehicles is the cost effect. In case, going by the company cab comes out to be more expensive than personal transport, people would prefer personal vehicles.Govt subsidy/tax cuts for companies operating their own transport would allow the company to cut the costs and pass on the benefits to its employees.

Traffic congestion is a given at the time of office hours.Hence it would really be beneficial if companies at can co-ordinate the cab timings amongst themselves.Lets take the example of Whitefields.If one-third of companies EOD is at 6, next one-thirds at 6:20 and the last one-third at 6:40 and similar timings for morning cabs, the number of vehicles on the road for those 20 minutes would reduce and so would the congestion.

Finally, the most in-vogue solution of the day-Car Pooling.A gr8 idea.For those who are not aware of the concept, car-pooling is basically a group of people with same/nearby offices can co-ordinate amongst themselves to go daily in a single vehicle.That would save costs for everyone of them, reduce fuel consumption and bring down the number of vehicles on road.However car-pooling is a bit tricky to implement because of lack of info.However, an online application might be the an online web portal dedicated to making lives better in Apartment Complexes is planning to come up an web interface for the same.Here I would like to add the disclaimer that the promoters of are my batchmates from IIT Roorkee.However this post is not motivated by any commercial interests or marketing gimmick.This is just being used as an example of how carpooling can be implemented.Following is a sample UI of the application being developed by

Similar applications or communities on social networking sites would go a long way in helping with car-pooling.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize the point that instead of looking at big solutions of a big problem, there might be a number of small solutions which can each make a little bit of difference.The overall result would surely be one step closer to solving the traffic problems of Bangalore.Howerver, most of the above mentioned solutions would need full support as well as initiative from the citizens as well.A dedicated group of people with maybe support from a NGO could do wonders for this.It is my sincere request that kindly let me know if anybody is aware of such NGO. Also, if there is a group of citizens working towards this or interested in working towards this, please count me in.


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