Mumbai is in serious need of public transport management


By  Ashok Datar

Sustainable traffic and transport solutions include more pay for parking, controlling the number of cars and making public transport more appealing

Mumbai is graduating from traffic jams to what is known as gridlocks — which is the worst-case scenario, an absolute extreme on the traffic scene. While the population of Greater Mumbai (South Mumbai to Borivli in the West and Mulund on the Central side) has barely increased by 5 per cent during the decade, the number of cars and other vehicles has grown by more than 2.5 times, which makes it 250 per cent.

As each new car requires three parking spaces, (a car owner needs a space at home, in office and finally when he visits someone or goes somewhere on the road) parking has become a phantom. Many of us ignore its scabies like spread! Now, motorists take it as a “right” to park where they want, free of cost during the day or night.

Going by Mumbai’s real estate rates, the actual cost of a parking space on the road depending on location would be anything between Rs 8 to 20 lakh, as a parked car would need approximately 200 square feet.

Metro or Mono
The metro or monorail will take two more years to complete and will not address traffic congestion in most parts of Mumbai. Similarly, none of the much bandied road projects such as extension of the Sea Link (or is it the Coastal Road) the Santa Cruz-Chembur Link, the Peddar Road flyover, (with the exception of the Eastern Freeway linking Mankhurd with South Mumbai via the 9-km elevated road from Sewree) will be completed before 2013. Now is the time to find much neglected solutions based on demand management, (how to reduce demand for road space) discipline and governance.

It is time to think of short-term solutions and demand management for road space. We think too much about the long-term, ignoring the immediate. But I fear that by the time delayed projects get completed, we may run out of their promised utility and performance and hence, the short term view and demand management measures should be brought into focus. We are running out of space and time and a delay of even a year means we will have to contend with another lakh of private vehicles.  More info and photos