The Gridlocked Roads and Public Transport
Traffic jam has become a permanent feature of our day to day lives affecting all sects of society alike. Students, office goers, businessmen, all suffer due to this unending menace irrespective of whether they travel in their personal facilities or on public transport. All of us have to spare a sufficient margin of time for the traffic jam while going for the daily jobs and assignments.
Several steps taken by the authorities to ease up the agony of traffic jams have failed to yield any result. Even the laying of new roads, building flyovers, minimizing intersections, etc, seems to have only contributed to increasing congestion and sprawl. The menace is growing day to day as a remarkable number of vehicles are added every day to the already choked roads.
It looks like living with traffic congestion is the only viable option left for the modern life system.
Rising traffic congestion is an inevitable condition in modern times where pressures of meeting targets, fulfilling commitments, and struggling with time constraints are an integral part of life. Peak-hour traffic congestion is an inherent result of the way today’s life goes and modern societies operate. The efficient operation of the economic systems requires that people move and work.
The widespread needs and compulsions of people to pursue their needs, goals, and desires inescapably overload the roads and transport systems every day. All of us are responsible for this congestion, and all of us are annoyed with it. It keeps on getting worse, despite our disliking it and even attempted remedies.
Srinagar offers one of the worst examples of traffic chaos and mismanagement.
The city has practically turned into a gridlocked mess with its vital intersections bursting at seams and commuters struggling for space for free movement. Even the City’s bypass remains the most traffic-jammed corridor for most of the day and evening. Drivers in and around the city and towns spent hours battling traffic congestion during peak hours missing time deadlines and commitments.
The loss such as the value of time spent in traffic, cost of extra fuel, plus costs of inefficient service delivery is the direct result of the traffic congestion.
Lack of social discipline, poor driving culture, little patience, and inherent prejudice against fellow road users together with diminishing road span due to flocks of vendors and scarcity of parking spaces add up to this miserable state of affairs. Besides illegal parking, waiting, loading and unloading obstruct traffic flow thus reducing capacity at junctions squeezing even those walking or cycling. Some common and unnoticed contributing factors are driving at an inappropriate speed, jumping red lights, or driving through restricted areas which not only mess up the traffic but also cause fatalities and injuries.
Due to increasing sprawls, rapid and rampant motorization, and dismal urban transportation system, free mobility has become increasingly intricate for the common man. There is exacerbating congestion and pollution in prime shopping places as shoppers drive-in and then wander around looking for parking spaces. The major cause leading to traffic congestion is the high number of vehicles which is the result of population influx from suburbs, and the development of the economy.
To solve this problem, the government should encourage people to use public transport while making the service more convenient, efficient, cheaper, and accountable.
The service must be run more frequently and for longer hours, making it convenient and attractive to more people to increase patronage. The public transport companies and organizations must be forced to shun arrogance and must not be allowed to have their way of operation. Such steps will no doubt require a high degree of resolution and determination but little capital investment.
Those requiring an increasing degree of public or private sector investment can be taken up next.
Public transportation systems are the key element in the management of traffic both in urban as well as rural areas. Public transport consists of bus, taxi and train meant for serving the daily commuting needs of all people who have to venture out for their day to day work. Public transportation has its contribution to the people, economy as well as environment.
A robust public transport system has the potential of making all tasks in both urban and rural areas easy and also lessening the magnitude of traffic volume. Furthermore, it also brings effective mobility in the traffic system, and consequently gives a push to economy.
However, in Srinagar city as well as in major towns of the valley, the vast majority of people seeking to move during rush hours use private automotive vehicles. One dominant reason for using one’s transport is that privately-owned vehicles are more comfortable, faster, offer privacy, more convenient in trip timing, and more flexible for doing multiple tasks on one trip than almost any form of public transit.
Moreover, people residing in deeper peripheries of the city, are forced to use private cars due to scanty public transport. Also as household incomes rise, more and more people shift from slower, less expensive modes of movement offered by public transport to privately owned cars and trucks. Yet, it is unfair to assume that everyone can afford or operate a personal vehicle.
Public transportation exists to ensure that all community members can be assured access to flawless mobility, regardless of their ability to afford or operate a personal vehicle.
But it is the extremely poor, unprofessional, inadequate and miserably mismanaged public transport which makes it the last and an unpleasant choice for the commuters in Kashmir valley. Be it the state carriages or the contract carriages, both desolately fail in providing a viable alternative to private transport. Mini-buses are the predominant form of public transport in Srinagar and district towns.
Yet, these services have been extremely awful, and the commuters are finding it difficult to manage their mobility vis-a-vis their jobs with it. Infrequent and inconvenient public transportation is invariably responsible for minimizing the work potential of a commuter. Thus the failure of public transportation constrains their user’s ability to improve their quality of life, no matter how hard they try.
Thus, a pitiable public transportation system severely affects the common people in effectively managing their daily chores of life, therefore limiting their opportunities of peddling their lies ahead.
It is an irony that whereas the traffic congestion seems intolerable, the short term alternatives are even worse. Commuters are often frustrated by inability of the authorities to do anything about the problem. At the same time, although there may not be any perfect methods with which the authorities can eliminate road congestion, they need to explore ways to curb it to whatever level is possible.
Road widening, building tunnels, providing more parking lots and making more new ring roads is the way forward to reducing the magnitude of the problem. However, every single measure still needs to be paired with substantial improvements to public and active transport options.
A scientific and effective technique of decongesting peak hour traffic and maximizing road capacity is by varying the timing of traffic lights to match demand in real-time. This may look like a farfetched idea, but when traffic signal lights are all coordinated responsively to demand, incidences of traffic stuck in junctions leading to gridlock can be minimized. But before that installation and functioning of traffic signals should be treated as a serious business.
Moreover, Government and local authorities need to use law enforcement as a positive effort to help to road users and to enhance the efficiency of roads and traffic and not as a battle against motorists.
(Author is Pharma Entrepreneur and RK Columnist.
He can be reached at: [email protected])
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