Today was a hectic day, which I started by dropping a friend to the airport. Driving before dawn can be quite a risky proposition as I found out. On my return, one of those huge cars, which Chennai roads simply don’t have the space to accommodate, seemed to have turned turtle and lay sprawled across one side of the road, resulting in a long pile-up.
I thanked the Almighty. If I had left home five minutes later, I would have been part of that pile-up. The strange thing was nobody appeared to know how it all happened. Vehicles on the other side (my side, as I returned) slowed down, too, with drivers and occupants curious to know what exactly had happened. There were a couple of policemen trying to get the car to one side. There were no people inside the car that I could see. What had happened to the occupants I wondered… and hoped they managed to get out safely.
If it was the pleasure of speeding before dawn, it was sheer torture in the evening, inching my way through some of the worst traffic I have seen for a long time. I had gone to meet a friend working for a television channel and though I thought I’d be back in time for the evening walk, I was in for quite a surprise. Beyond Tidel Park, past the Ford office, road repair or broadening or whatever was making it painful for drivers. Although I started early I just managed to keep to the appointed time. The way back was terrible, with bumper-to-bumper traffic down the IT Expressway, past Spic, on to Kathipara junction and beyond towards Vadapalani. The last stretch from near the Deccan Chronicle office and the Olympus Tech Park to Ashok Nagar was literally a nightmare. By the time I reached home I was battered and bruised. Well, almost.
At this rate, it won’t be 72 minutes, but perhaps 120 minutes on average that people will take to travel to work or back home from office, till the Metro Rail project is completed. And once complete, will it help ease traffic bottlenecks on Chennai roads? I doubt it. By then, how many more vehicles would have been added... who's doing anything to stop that or to get more office-goers to use public transport?
What some speakers at the CII-organised seminar (see previous blog) had said seemed to make much more sense to me today.