We know that India in general suffers from traffic jams in many different parts of the country. This is essentially due to the population density and thereby, the vehicle density that is prevalent in the country. With so many people using automobiles, there is bound to be traffic and packed roads especially in high populated metropolitan cities. When speaking of traffic in India, people often talk about Mumbai as being the city with the worst traffic. This is understandable as Mumbai is the most highly populated city in India. It is also India’s financial hub and gets a lot of tourism. However, there is one other city that gives strong competition to Mumbai, and which many claim is definitely the city with the worst traffic in India. It is so bad that it can even content to be the city with the worst traffic in the world. That city is Bengaluru. Bengaluru sees constant bad traffic on a day-to-day basis, and every single person that comes from the city can testify on how bad the condition really is. But why is this so?
Why is it so bad?
On average, it is estimated that a Bangalore citizen spends about 10 days in traffic. This is an unimaginable amount for a lot of us from outside Bangalore, who might experience traffic here and there but nothing compared to Bangalore. Furthermore, the average speed travelled on Bangalore roads is only 11 km/h, and it is estimated that it could decrease to 8 km/h if no measures are taken to curb traffic. The unusual thing here is that the speed is low not only with traffic but also without it. This is because the roads in Bangalore, and in generally in India, are multi-purpose public goods serving a wide variety of uses other than motorized transport that slow down travel (hawkers, stalls, parked vehicles, etc.).
The generally agreed reason behind the traffic is that it is because of the rapid and unplanned growth of the city. Bangalore’s traffic advisor M.N. Sreehari himself has said that Bangalore suddenly went from a sleepy village, to a town, to a city. These unforeseen and unplanned changes in the city left it unprepared to deal with the traffic.
Bangalore is often described as the Silicon Valley of India as it is home to the IT industry. Since the early 1990s, with the advent of globalization and privatization, global technology firms began opening offices in Bangalore and a large number of support industries have grown around it, bringing with them a huge influx of people from all over India. Many Indians and NRIs started moving to Bangalore to try building their start-ups, which Bangalore is known for today.
Hence, Bangalore’s population grew from 5.6 million in 2001 to 8.7 million in 2011. Today, it is estimated to have reached 11.5 million. So, the population has grown exponentially, but the infrastructure and roads have not been able to keep up the pace.
Apart from this, even the general road layout is to be blamed for the traffic. Rather than having a grid pattern which promotes the flow of traffic, Bangalore has a star pattern which causes a lot of interceptions and jams. Bangalore used to have grid like roads, but it gradually became more star shaped because of unplanned change and development. Also, the roads themselves are mostly in bad conditions and full of potholes. Potholes are one of the reasons for traffic congestion and road accidents. There is also illegal construction on these roads which narrow them down, causing more jamming.
Furthermore, the public transport like buses carry only about 45% of the city’s traffic and the metro system is still underdeveloped. This means that most people are dependent on their private transport. The city has 6.6 million private vehicles, including one million cars. Every day, another million vehicles enter from outside the city, clogging its already choked streets. Adding to this problem is the fact that one-third of the city roads are taken away by parking and encroachments.
Bengaluru’s traffic is undeniably bad, and measures need to be taken to curb traffic jams and congestion in the city. The traffic has had wide ranging effects on pollution and on the health of people, not to mention it is an immense waste of a person’s time. Even companies in Bengaluru have started pulling out of the city to move to tier 2 and tier 3 cities because the traffic is simply bad for business. It is the statutory and constitutional duty of civic bodies to maintain roads and footpaths. If the administration takes steps to solve the traffic issue in the city, Bengaluru will become a much more popular city and gain a better reputation.