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Home > India > Business > Business Headline > Report

Of Bangalore's roads and the Tata Nano

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | January 12, 2008 16:28 IST

Bangalore has the worst managed vehicular traffic in Asia. Or so say some surveys.

Several studies, which indicate that the city has the worst managed traffic in Asia, attribute this mess to bad planning and inefficient traffic cops.

In this backdrop, the unveiling of the 'people's car' -- Tata Nano -- by Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata on January 10, has stirred up quite a debate among those who think the car is good for the nation and those who think the opposite.

The Nano might have put a smile on millions of faces across the nation, but the traffic police in Bangalore is definitely not amused.

According to statistics available with the traffic department, vehicular population in Bangalore has increased by 280 per cent over the last one year: of these, almost 70 per cent of the vehicles were two-wheelers.

With the launch of the Rs 1-lakh car, several persons who have been riding two-wheelers are now contemplating the purchase of this car as it is quite affordable.

Says Ravi Shankar Prasad, a school teacher in the Malleshwaram area in Bangalore: "I drop my two kids to school and then ferry my wife to office on my two-wheeler. The rise in traffic has made it extremely unsafe and there is always this sense of fear when I ride with all of them on my scooter. The launch of the Nano is a pleasant surprise and I will go in for it as I can afford it." There are many who echo Prasad's sentiment.

The Bangalore police expects at least 40 per cent of the two-wheeler riders in the city to switch over to the Rs 1-lakh car in the next two years.

Currently, there are around 21 lakh (2.1 million) two-wheelers and about 5 lakh (500,000) cars on Bangalore roads: if 40 per cent of the two-wheeler owners switch over to four-wheelers, it would mean that there would around 14 lakh (1.4 million) cars clogging up Bangalore's creaking road infrastructure.

Two-wheeler riders in Bangalore would be more than happy to opt for the Rs 1-lakh car due to the comfort and safety it would offer. The Karnataka high court had in a recent order stated that riding triple (three persons on a two-wheeler) is a punishable offence. The traffic police, till date, have not been able to fully implement this rule thanks to severe opposition from people who feel that the rule is too hard on them as they are unable to afford a car.

Tata Nano will take care of at least 40 per cent of this problem, according to the Bangalore police.

The traffic police are already gearing up for what they see as an impending traffic nightmare and plan to deal with that situation employing a multi-pronged approach to the problem.

The Bangalore transport department and traffic police will soon be setting up a meeting to finalise the setting up of more bus terminals so that people do not have to use their cars. These local bus stops will also ferry passengers coming in from other cities into Bangalore.

People coming from Pune and Hyderabad will have to get into another bus in order to enter into Bangalore. It is felt that by preventing the entry of inter-state permit buses into Bangalore, traffic congestion might be reduced. The traffic department says that it will set up robust transport infrastructure to avoid traffic chaos in Bangalore.

The government has also indicated that in case of matters getting out of hand, it might impose congestion tax on vehicle owners. This would mean that persons owning more than one car will have to cough up congestion tax.

The government is of the view that that this will discourage people from purchasing more than one car.