Thursday, December 10, 2015

Save Bengaluru before it chokes from traffic and other problems

Karnataka State Capital Bengaluru is heading towards a total collapse of infrastructure and civic management. Traffic is unbearable, garbage management is a joke, power is in short supply but state government and local administration are either incompetent or indifferent. National Capital Delhi is also choking on similar issues and pollution. Some ideas are being discussed there to make things better. Bengaluru also needs some immediate corrective measures, without which city will be unfit for living within a decade.

Below are some ideas that I think can solve city's problem, if seriously implemented.

1.    Discourage more people moving into Bengaluru- infrastructure is not adequate to support existing population. If some IT companies are threatening to halt their expansion in city and relocate elsewhere, encourage them to. New factories, office complexes and IT parks can wait for some-time till supporting infrastructure is ready.

2.    Develop nearby Tier2/Tier 3 cities like Mysuru, Tumkur, Hosur, Hosakote, Kolar etc.  Make these cities capable of handling slightly larger population. Encourage a % of population/factories/offices to shift to these cities. Develop a secondary airport (Mysore already has one) in one of these cities and encourage some airlines (may be budget airlines) to offer connectivity from these cities instead of BIAL.

3.    Build a peripheral local train system similar to outer ring road. Local trains are highly effective in moving large number of people from one part of the city to another. Has been working very well in Mumbai, Chennai etc. The Bangalore metro is not helping regular office goers much. If local trains can run parallel to NICE Road/ORR, thousands of office goes can commute in short time from say Kengeri to Whitefield or Hebbal to Electronic city by train. Takes load off road traffic. Ensure these train stations have lots of multi-story parking spaces so that people can park their vehicles in the station and catch train.

4.    Encourage employees to stay close to office. Local residents who have their families, properties and roots in heart of Bangalore may not be able to move closer to office, but outsiders who relocate to Bengaluru can be easily convinced to stay in apartments closer to work. Some incentives from administration/corporates can ensure this and it means those people will spend very less time commuting.

5.    Improve public transportation-people should feel it is viable, cheaper and fast enough to take public transportation instead of using their car
a.    Feeder buses which offer short distance connectivity (like small buses in Chennai),
b.    More multi-story parking facilities where people can leave their cars and take bus/train,
c.    Encourage self-drive car rentals
d.    Build proper mobile app that can be used to figure out how to reach a destination, timing of buses etc. This way those who are not familiar with city's bus numbers, stops etc also will be able to use public transportation. Switzerland and many European cities have this app.
e.   Many cycle rental efforts are being made by enterprising individuals (ex- Namma Cycle)-encourage this on larger scale and in multiple locations with Government support, so that people are encouraged to try cycle for short distance instead of auto/taxi.

6.    Discourage registration of more personal vehicles-may be increase tax on second or third vehicle of a family etc. Give incentives to those who have very high income (say in 30% income tax bracket) but still do not own a car.

Garbage and electricity are two big topics on their own. I don't have enough expertise to comment on them. But if number of people living in city is controlled, it naturally reduces load on all other aspects of living.
Of course doing all these will need political will and funding. I am sure funding is not a problem.


Arun Prasadh said...

To give you an example of how much the traffic has increased - It was taking 1 hr 10 min for me to travel 25 Kms last year. Our office shifted to ORR and now the distance reduced to 13 Kms but the time is still the same.

Satish Kumar said...

I think if traffic is a problem, then shut down the automobile industry for a few years and make people travel by public transport...Make alternate jobs for the auto sector people

Satish Kumar said...

I think if traffic is a problem, then shut down the automobile industry for a few years and make people travel by public transport...Make alternate jobs for the auto sector people

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Arun. Yes, I am observing it closely. No immediate relief in sight.

@Satish Kumar- shutting down auto industry will result in much bigger problem- as it creates employment to thousands of people directly and lakhs of people indirectly (suppliers, dealers, mechanics etc)- there will be a huge financial crisis if all factories are to be shut at once. But yes, over years we should reduce no of vehicles slowly.

Sandeep Shande said...

you're spot on Srinidhi. with current population growth it's defintely not sustainaible in the city. If it rains 10% of what it was in Chennai, I am sure all tech parks and apartments constructed on lake beds will be flooded with water.

-> Moving industries to Tier-2 cities is way to go. Instead of govt, I feel Industry leaders should take initiative. This will automatically various infra issues like Water, Sewage, Garbage and Electricity.
-> Let's keep Mysuru out of consideration and retain its charm as peaceful heritage city !
-> Public transport will work when it is convinient and cost effective. Why many people are driving to work because it provides them flexibility and most of the cases it works out cheaper than public transport. These days going in ordinary BMTC bus for 2 kms cost around Rs.12 and in volvos it will be > rs. 40 !
-> Staying near offices is not affordable to all. I can see all premium housing projects coming up near IT parks which will be owned by some business tycoons, movie star, NRIs etc. and definitely will be unaffordable for majority of IT workforce.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Well said Shande..

Yes, Mysore should be spared.
I find BMTC daily pass very effective. Yes, individual tickets are expensive
Staying near office can be made affordable if companies can be asked to offer quarters or support high rentals instead of paying for transportation

Sandeep Shande said...

exactly. while setting-up a Tech park the authorities should plan for an affordable housing complex at walkable distance, which should be able to accomodate atleast 50% of employees. Not sure if this would be possible in the era Crony Capitalism !