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'Kids Got Home at Night': Why Was Bengaluru's ORR Traffic Jam 'One of Worst'?

Many described the gridlock as "one of the worst" ones they've experienced in the city.

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#PeakBengaluru peaked even further on the evening of Wednesday, 27 September, with the city's Outer Ring Road (ORR) – which passes through the IT corridor – experiencing an unprecedented, hours-long traffic snarl.

Livid, many Bengalurians took to X (formerly Twitter) to raise their concerns. Some said they were late to the Trevor Noah show (that never happened) and others reported that their kids reached home late at night after school.

But most of them described the gridlock as "one of the worst" ones they've experienced in the city, which is notorious for traffic congestion.

But why was Wednesday's traffic on the ORR so bad?

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The Major Factors

Multiple factors contributed to the ORR bottleneck on Wednesday. Generally, the worst traffic jams in Bengaluru are experienced on Wednesday afternoons as there are more number of vehicles on the road midweek.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Bengaluru Traffic) MN Anucheth, in a statement, attributed Wednesday's incident to five factors:

  • Bengaluru Bandh Effect: Traffic was reportedly two times the normal amount on this particular Wednesday. The usual vehicle count on a Wednesday is 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh. But it was 3.5 lakh by 7:30 pm on this day. The traffic police said this was because of the Bengaluru Bandh on Tuesday, 26 September, and a lot of employees generally come to work after a non-working day.

  • No Staggered Exits: On Wednesday, most employees also exited their offices at around the same time.

  • Long-Weekend: A lot of people were leaving the city for the long weekend via the ORR (as Thursday, 28 September, is a public holiday, Friday, 29 September, is the statewide bandh, and Monday, 2 October, is Gandhi Jayanti).

  • Waterlogging & Potholes: Rains in the city had caused waterlogging on several interior roads, which in turn, led to more vehicular movement on the ORR. The potholes on the roads made matters worse.

  • Vehicle breakdowns: There were also multiple vehicle breakdowns between 3:30 pm and 5 pm on roads that were already narrow due to the ongoing metro rail work.

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Why Does the ORR Experience Heavy Traffic?

But this isn't the first time the ORR has seen terrible traffic congestions.

The 60-km-long road was constructed in six phases between 1996 and 2002 – and its primary objectives were to create a link between the major highways and drive heavy vehicles away from the inner portion of the city.

Things changed over the last two decades after several IT firms set up shop around the ORR. It currently covers major IT areas including Bellandur, Marathahalli, and Sarjapur Road.

"There are many number of companies surrounding the ORR and they've got a large number of people working. The ORR was built 20 years ago. It was an industrial area and was an ideal location for the IT boom," Krishna Kumar Gowda, the general manager of the Outer Ring Road Companies' Association (ORRCA), told The Quint.

The traffic police and the ORRCA issued notices to IT companies last month to implement staggered office timings, carpooling, and use of public transport. "But when something like a bandh happens, people collectively tend to come to office on the next working day," he added.

A report submitted by the ORRCA to the traffic police claims that 6.4 lakh employees commute daily on the ORR, which connects Silk Board and KR Puram, Moneycontrol reported. They use 3.3 lakh vehicles, including personal cars and cabs, the report stated.

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How Bengalurians Reacted

Wednesday's logjam was frustrating for many Bengalurians who shared their ordeal on social media. X users pointed how "despite the good weather," the horrible traffic jams in the 'Silicon Valley of India' have become an inescapable part of their lives.

One user even said that a Domino's delivery partner delivered their order to them while they were stuck in traffic.

"When we decided to order from @dominos during the Bangalore choke. They were kind enough to track our live location (a few metres away from our random location added in the traffic) and deliver to us in the traffic jam," the user wrote.

Another user described how many schoolchildren got home at 8 pm as their buses were stuck in traffic. "Some school buses dropped kids at 8 pm! Our kids definitely deserve better," the user wrote.

Some users also pointed out that standup comedian Trevor Noah – whose show was supposed to happen on Wednesday evening (but was cancelled due to technical issues) – was late to his own show because he was stuck in Bengaluru traffic.

Here are some other reactions:

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Bengaluru   Trevor Noah   Traffic 

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