Thursday, October 23, 2008

When will Chennai's traffic improve?

N.S. Venkataraman, trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, as usual hits the nail on the head. I reproduce below the email he has sent to me

After visiting my 92-year-old uncle in Mylapore who is now confined to his home happily thinking about his younger days when he used to walk around in Mylapore without tension, I took a city bus 29C from Mylapore tank to Adyar depot. I boarded the bus at 6.20 p.m. on a Saturday and reached Adyar bus depot at 7.15 p.m. The bus took 55 minutes to cover the distance of less than six kilometres.

On that day, an actor-turned-politician was holding a big rally in the city with many of his supporters coming to the city in buses and vans from different parts of the state. While this partly contributed to the traffic hurdle, the bus conductor told me that the conditions were no different on other days during peak hours.

Standing in the bus for nearly an hour and having nothing to do but to watch the conditions on the road as the bus was moving at a snail’s pace , I realised that the traffic system has virtually collapsed. There was no space on the road for pedestrians or cyclists, and two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers moved on whatever space that they found, to inch forward. In such conditions, any vehicle can hit another or a pedestrian and it was miraculous that I did not see any accident. My immediate feeling was: why do politicians hold rallies in the city and get their followers to come in huge numbers? Obviously, they have no concern for causing hardship to people.

I felt disgusted about the quality of traffic administration and those who are responsible for it. Ministers and senior bureaucrats, who lay down traffic rules move in escorted official cars and have no opportunity to understand the plight of those who have to travel by bus or of pedestrians. It appears that they have no action plan to solve these problems and they seem to have run out of ideas.

It should be known even to a school student that the number of cars and two wheelers allowed to ply in the city should be drastically reduced , since there is no relation to the number of cars plying and the size of the roads. Why is the government allowing more and more car factories?

There is certainly no feasibility of widening the road; constructing flyovers can solve the problem only to a certain extent. The mass transportation system is good in theory but it would take a pretty long time to implement the schemes and in any case the government is too slow on such strategies as well.

It is necessary to increase the number of buses in the city and discourage the use of cars and two-wheelers on the road to the extent possible. It is said that the Singapore Government has restricted the number of cars on the road as a part of traffic management policy.

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