Can Bengaluru Adopt Delhi’s Odd-Even System?
The traffic police in Bengaluru live in fear of the day Bengaluru’s vehicle population hits the one crore mark. With over 70 lakh vehicles already on the road and the vehicle population rapidly increasing, it is expected that Bengaluru will have one crore vehicles by 2022.
That the already crawling traffic is going to to get worse – if correctional measures are not taken – is something everyone agrees on. However, last week when Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy announced that the government is looking at implementing New Delhi’s odd-even vehicle number system in Bengaluru to reduce the traffic congestion, it was received with much criticism.
The lack of public transport system compared to cities like New Delhi and Mumbai is pointed out as one of the reasons for possible failure of the system in Bengaluru.
Not Enough Buses
If more than 35 lakh vehicles are removed from the roads as part of the odd-even system, there are not enough buses to transport commuters in Bengaluru. Even though Bengaluru has one of the largest bus fleets in the country, it is not enough, say urban experts.
According to Ashwin Mahesh, an Urban Mobility expert, Bengaluru has only half the bus fleet a city should have. “The global norm for bus services is that there should 120 vehicles for one lakh of population. Going by that logic, there should be 13,000 buses in Bengaluru, but what we have is around 6,500,” he said.
He also pointed out that at the pace at which the metro rail is being developed in the city, it can’t be considered a primary transportation facility for Bengalureans.
Remove Old Vehicles, Say Cops
Senior police officers point out that even in New Delhi the odd-even system was not considered a success. “If the odd-even system was a success, why did the Delhi government stop? Why didn’t they continue with it? I don’t think an odd-even system would work in a city like Bengaluru, which relies heavily on private transport,” said a senior traffic police officer.
The officer, however, added that removing old vehicles from the road would help. “If we want to decongest Bengaluru, the first step should be removing old vehicles from the roads. If we remove vehicles that are more than 15 years old, at least 5 lakh vehicles will be off the road permanently ,” said the officer.
City’s Aversion to Carpooling
According to traffic police officers, one of the major causes of traffic are the cars with single occupants, and in 2015, Bengaluru traffic police had launched a campaign to promote carpooling in the tech parks across the city.
Traffic police partnered with several carpooling apps to take the project forward and get the large techie population of the city to carpool. Despite signing agreements with several corporate and tech companies in the city, the project died an inconspicuous death. “Carpooling is certainly a solution for the problem, however, it is not something that can implemented with force, it has to come from within,” R Hitendra, additional commissioner of police, traffic said.
What IS the Solution?
According to Ashwin Mahesh, increasing the bus fleet to 14,000 and developing at least 1,500 roads for these buses, under the TenderSure scheme, which provides for better quality roads, can decongest the roads. “There should confidence among the people that public transportation can take them wherever they want to go, and it is easily available. Until, then people would continue to rely on private transport and introduction of policies like odd-even will fail in the absence of good public transport,” he said.