Bangalore — The World’s Most Traffic Congested City

Bengaluru, also known as India’s Silicon Valley, is home to various MNCs and IT sector companies in India, but not a lot of people are aware that this Garden city is also notorious for its overwhelming traffic. The TomTom Traffic Index released January 2020 by a Dutch real-time traffic and information company declared Bengaluru the most traffic congested city in the world. Drivers and motorists here spend around 71% extra travelling time on the roads. Though this increasing traffic can be seen as a sign of a growing economy, one can’t deny that it hurts the output by reducing the productivity of the people, leads to increased pollution and decreased quality of life.

There are various reasons for this traffic congestion, the primary reason being Bengaluru’s increasing population. In its initial days, urban city planners never expected a city like Bangalore to be more populated than metro cities. Surprisingly, the population of the city doubled from 5.6 million in 2001 to 8.7 million in 2011. Bengaluru is home to a lot of students and millennials who come to the city for job purposes. Mostly, migrants from nearby states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh come to Bangalore because of opportunities, while people from North India and North East India too prefer Bangalore because of its cosmopolitan nature and pleasant climate.

Complementing the population is the poor state infrastructure. Also, the roads in Bengaluru are extremely narrow as compared to other metro cities of India. Furthering this problem is the limited availability of BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) buses. As per a recent statistic of May 2019, there are around 6,500-7,000 public buses plying in Bangalore, which is actually a very poor number. Also, the buses do not have exhaustive connectivity within the city, and people have to wait for more than two hours for buses scheduled for a particular route. The auto drivers here are habitual of asking for unreasonable amounts of money, peaking at almost five times the actual value, which further aids preference for private vehicles and online cab services.  This further contributes to the problem of traffic congestion.

But why bother?

Traffic congestion has an adverse effect not only on our health but also on our environment. Though increased traffic is often seen as a sign of economic growth, however we fail to realize that this has a significant unfavourable effect on the output and productivity level. We know that time is a resource and when one is simply stuck in traffic for hours the opportunity cost paid for it is very high. Besides, after working for long hours when people want to get back and relax, getting stuck in traffic makes them very annoyed and irritated and has a negative psychological implications. It is estimated that Bengalurians spend an average of 243 hours due to traffic congestion and this further degrades the quality of life of these individuals.

Individuals aside, the increased traffic congestion increases not only the air pollution, but also the noise pollution. Interestingly, Bengaluru is planning to launch Mumbai’s ‘Honk More Wait More’ policy in order to combat its increasing noise pollution. But the extent of this impact will be limited, and other combative solutions must be explored.

Delhi very efficiently managed its growing population by shifting the focus to nearby places like Faridabad or Gurugram; Bangalore is unable to do this because there are no nearby cities to compete with it. Urban city planners must now focus on shifting the development agenda outside Bangalore in cities like Mangalore, Belgaum or Mysore are proximate cities with similar climatic conditions. This would greatly help Bangalore from this huge inflow of people seeking for education or job opportunities. Hence, educational institutions and IT companies should be incentivised for setting up businesses in these nearly places. This would not only help divert the population but also promote equal and balanced regional growth in the state.

Bengaluru can draw inspiration from Kolkata, which constructed the E.M Bypass on the eastern side of the city to connect the entire eastern stretch and also lessen the perennial traffic congestion which was dominating the heart of the city. Similarly, Bengaluru can stretch its metro connectivity to various other prime locations of the city to combat this increasing traffic congestion problem. On similar grounds Bengaluru can also invest in building connectors and flyovers in order to avoid this notorious congestion.

Bengaluru can also adopt effective schemes from countries like Indonesia and Singapore like Area Licence Scheme, Vehicle Quota Scheme or Electronic Road Pricing Scheme which would not only control the traffic but also promote greener and environment friendly measures.

All these solutions are of course left to the state, but there is something that we as individuals can do as well. Basic road etiquette is something which must be followed by all. It is always easy to break traffic rules, by justifying that one is getting late. But we should understand that we must be that change we desire to see in this world’s most traffic congested city. Ironically, the people who complain about this infamous traffic are the same people who blatantly break traffic rules and fail to maintain certain basic road etiquettes. It can all start from a simple step like waking up 15 minutes early to avoid hurrying on the road, not to overtake a car which is in front of you, and most preferably shift to public transport.

Every great deed starts from within, with a small effort and a tinge of hope to see a better tomorrow. I hope for all fellow Bengalurians to join hands together for a better Bengaluru and a better tomorrow.

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