Traffic Congestion is costing the nation in terms of economic and environmental loss a lot. This problem is now no more restricted to just infrastructure development or increasing the public transport network but, demand a development of Integrated Public Transport Network. Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, Japan are using this model for resolving their traffic congestion problem. Thus this article lays out the probability of application of such system in India.  

Traffic has been one of the major problems in India since last few years. Some of the developed Indian cities that are today facing this acute problem are: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata etc. The urban growth and economy has largely been affected by this single factor of developed and developing cities. The traffic congestion has given rise to many problems like the air pollution, wastage of fuel, sound pollution, damage to existing infrastructural facilities, stress and other health disorders. In India, unlike the other nations, there is no formal definition to explain the traffic congestion. In US the traffic congestion is explained as “a congestion occurring on a freeway when the average speed drops below 35 mph for 15 minutes or more on a typical week day”. In South Korea it is explained as “when the freeway speed falls below 30 Km/h or traffic congestion continues longer than 2 hours a day without occurring 10 days a month”. Japan primarily focuses on “speed” to consider the aspect of traffic congestion.

Mehrauli-Badarpur road is considered to be one of the heavily congested roads in Delhi. Right back in 2014 the study was conducted for decongesting this track of 12 km long. Also in the year 2004 the maintenance of this road was transferred from MCD (Municipal Corporation Department) to PWD (Public Works Department). This road connects NH-2 at Badarpur to Aurobindo Marg close to Qutub Minar in Southeast Delhi. During the survey*, it was observed that traffic moved at a snail’s pace. Observing the track of 12 km it was recorded that two-wheelers, cars and three-wheelers formed the major component of this heavily occupied road. The study recommended construction of various flyovers, elevation of roads, construction of tunnels and all. So far, the situation at the stretch remains the same and in fact depleting every day.

Also it was revealed in the same survey that the small stretch of 0.65 Km at MB road (between BRT and Sangam Vihar) due to its congestion can create a loss of Rs. 22,05,525 per month; so one can imagine the scale of loss getting incurred due to traffic congestion. Also the study in 2012 released by the Transport Corporation of India along with IIM Calcutta stated that annually country loses Rs.60 crore due to jammed traffic. The average speed of the traffic was less than 20 kmph on some of the key corridors like the Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Chennai and Delhi Guwahati. Also here’s an example of how traffic jams eat away your time and your money.

The one biggest problem with the traffic congestion is that the government and other agencies have failed to understand the nature and scope of this problem. Enlargement of lanes, constructing flyovers, setting up the red lights are the not the solution to this growing problem. Infrastructure alone cannot handle this crisis. Thrust has to be given to the strengthening the public transport. It will automatically help in reducing the road density, pollution problems etc.

Today even the public transport systems are over-crowded, prone to technical glitches, limited to the developed part of the cities only, unequal fare system and much more. The government should focus on developing an Integrated Public Transport System.

This system (Integrated Public Transport System) enables the smooth flow of traffic along with updated information, availability of different modes of transportation, cutting down the operational costs, emphasizing on efficiency and increasing productivity. World Bank has published a paper titled as “Public Transport Service Optimization and System Integration”. To reach a destination, for example, a rider is often forced to take multiple routes, each with different schedules and transfer stations but without coordination on passenger information. As a result, the rider may have to take a long walk to make transfers and pay multiple fares. It also creates overlapping services and discourages ridership, according to the paper.

This system will integrate different modes of transport along with fare information, passenger placement information, routes scheduling, weather conditions, environmental impacts and much more. The system by integrating the different modules of traffic network creates one centralized terminal for the information dispatch and presenting the shortest and the most convenient routes for the passengers. As a result, the trip will be more convenient and planned.

This system will have deep impact on mobility of the traffic. The unsystematic approach towards the trip can be avoided, resulting in organized and necessary traffic only on roads. The road density, pollution levels, verification of accidents, reviewing of traffic jams will be more possible to analyze through this new system. Also the transit schedule will be user friendly and mobility of goods and services will be smooth. In all, the information and system will be easy to manage and will be comprehensive. It will help in resolving this core problem of traffic congestion that India is facing and incurring huge loss in terms of economy and environment.

Nevertheless, the challenges remain tough for the Indian government regarding the implementation of this system. The development of this module with high speed net connectivity, proper information dissemination centers and data collecting stations has to be established. More comprehensive and consolidated research has to be done in order to identify and mark out routes and different localities. The system should be highly user friendly and accessible to all. Also it should be complemented by the regular measures such as development of nation highway and road policy, providing efficient public network, developing metro network more comprehensive etc.

Thus, this problem seems to be daunting one for the government!

Author: Rishabh Shrivastava, Founder (The Analysis)

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(*Author is currently attending the summer course on environment and development organized by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) New Delhi. Hence, he has conducted various surveys and studies on topics related to environment like traffic congestion, use of bio-fuels, energy consumption etc.)