Bangalore’s dreaded traffic has been debated, but what has escaped much of the media is that several initiatives are in place to limit mobility while augmenting traffic infrastructure. K Amaranarayana, Commissioner of Transport and Road Safety, Government of Karnataka, explains to Shashidhar Nanjundaiah.
What new initiatives is the government taking in transport management?
Urban mobility is the major issue confronting the citizens. Nearly 40 lakh vehicles ply on the roads of Bangalore’s 700-odd sq km of roads. The road-to-land ratio is relatively low because the city has expanded to about 765 sq km-up from around 250 sq km only 20 years ago.
Transport systems, however, have not kept up. The government is trying its best to bring in metro rail as soon as it can. Meanwhile, while the existing bus transport-Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC)-does its best, viability is an issue because of subsidisation to various categories… students, for example. But the basic need is safe and convenient transport system. Currently, BMTC incurs Rs 257 crore loss.
The state has one of the most profitable transport systems in the country…
Our other corporations like Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) are on the plus side, with about Rs 147 crore profit. But [in terms of service], BMTC is reputed to be one of best services in the country and has won awards and laurels from all over.
Most Indian cities now need to limit, not encourage, mobility. Is Bangalore taking steps in that direction?
Yes. Our next step in technology enablement is to introduce the "anywhere" concept for registration-a unique scheme in the country-in association with the National Infomatics Centre (NIC). Such registration will be both online and offline. Karnataka is one of the most promising states in terms of innovation. Bangalore and no longer need to commute to centres to pay their bills: through an initiative called Bangalore One, centres all over the city ensure minimum mobility and inconvenience. You can also pay your bills through the internet. This initiative is being launched in two-and three-tier cities as well.
What are the short, middle and long term objectives to address Bangalore’s dreaded traffic problems?
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is widening the roads, even as the metro rail has been easing some pressure off roads. We may be heading for a day in about a decade when people pay a toll to drive in the city unless they have a designated parking space.
BBMP also plans to construct more flyovers. One of the allied factors in transport is facilities for foot traffic. Over the years, footpaths have been used for road widening, leading to further traffic problems since pedestrians will have no alternative but to walk on roads.
Bangalore’s traffic problems also originate from indiscipline. Has your department taken steps to automate systems to avoid corruption and increase the quality of driving?
Yes. Most of our licensing process is automated and computerised. We now have automated test driving tracks with no human intervention. The number of complaints has already come down with the increased transparency and minimised red tape. This is a Karnataka government initiative, in association with government-owned Keonics.
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