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Road widening - Futility & Alternatives

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Road widening - Futility & Alternatives


BBMP listed 217 roads to be widened. This has caused much worry among citizens as it entails widespread destruction of both greenery & property. Why do so many roads need to be widened? What are the characteristics of congestion on this road? What are the traffic patterns on these roads? Should congestion be reduced by widening or by any other strategy? Are already widened roads being used efficiently? Have we addressed the efficiency of current road widths? This paper attempts to focus on the efficiency of current available road space and put widening into perspective as a long term strategy.


The simple truth is that building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, in fact, it increases traffic.

A recent University of California at Berkeley study covering thirty California counties between 1973 and 1990 found that, for every 10 percent increase in roadway capacity, traffic increased 9 percent within four years' time1.

Yet another study, on why building wider roads isn’t the answer, in analyzing sixty road closures worldwide, found that 20 percent to 60 percent of driving trips disappeared rather than materializing elsewhere2.

USA Today published the following report on Atlanta: "For years, Atlanta tried to ward off traffic problems by building more miles of highways per capita than any other urban area except Kansas City…As a result of the area's sprawl, Atlantans now drive an average of 35 miles a day, more than residents of any other city."· This phenomenon, which is now well known to those members of the transportation industry who wish to acknowledge it, has come to be called induced traffic.

The phenomenon of induced traffic works in reverse as well. When New York's West Side Highway collapsed in 1973, an NYDOT study showed that 93 percent of the car trips lost did not reappear elsewhere; people simply stopped driving.

This condition is best explained by what specialists call latent demand. Since the real constraint on driving is traffic, not cost, people are always ready to make more trips when the traffic goes away. The number of latent trips is huge--perhaps 30 percent of existing traffic. Because of latent demand, adding lanes is futile, since drivers are already poised to use them up.

Automobile use is the intelligent choice for most people because it is what economists refer to as a "free good": the consumer pays only a fraction of its true cost.  We learn in first-year economics what happens when products or services become "free" goods. The market functions chaotically; demand goes through the roof. In most cities, parking spaces, roads and freeways are free goods. Local government services to the motorist and to the trucking industry--traffic engineering, traffic control, traffic lights, police and fire protection, street repair and maintenance--are all free goods.3

A piece of statistic from the Mumbai Traffic Police web site illustrates the magnitude of the problem: While length of roads in Mumbai increased two times between 1951 and 2007, the population increased 5.4 times and the number of vehicles a whopping 43 times.

Another way of widening or adding lanes is to build elevated roads. Essentially it is another way to add bandwidth which is similarly destructive. In fact most countries are today opting to pull down the elevated highways they have built, following are some examples

Elevated roads already removed

Elevated roads being removed

Removals proposed by citizens

Portland, OR: Harbor Drive

Rochester, NY, Innerloop

Baltimore, MD, Jones Falls Expressway

San Francisco, CA: Embarcadero Freeway

Trenton, NJ, Route 29

Seattle, WA, Alaska Way Viaduct

San Francisco, CA: Central Freeway

Akron, OH, Innerbelt

Bronx, NY, Sheridan Expressway

Milwaukee, WI: Park East Freeway

Washington, DC, Whitehurst Freeway

Buffalo, NY, Route 5

Toronto, Ontario: Gardiner Expressway

Cleveland, OH, Shoreway

Hartford, CT, Aetna Viaduct

New York, NY: West Side Highway

New Orleans, LA, Claiborne Expressway

Louisville, KY, Interstate 64

Niagara Falls, NY: Robert Moses Parkway

Nashville, TN, Downtown Loop

Portland, OR, I-5

Boston, MA: Interstate 93 (moved underground)

New Haven, CT, Route 34 Connector

Chicago, IL, Lakeshore Drive

Paris, France: Pompidou Expressway

Montreal, Quebec, Bonaventure Expressway


Seoul, South Korea: Cheonggye Freeway

Tokyo, Japan, Metropolitan Expressway


Sydney, Australia, Cahill Expressway: (Moving to underground)



What do we want?

The important question is not how many lanes must be built to ease congestion but how many lanes of congestion would we want? Do we favor four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour, or sixteen? So what are we trying to do with these road widening projects? Are we looking to loosen the belt to accommodate the flab or do we have a plan in place to address the bulge?

There will pretty much always be a latent demand for more driving. Much of that demand is discouraged or diverted by congestion. Much of the discouragement goes away when the road is less congested.  

The key is not to strive to reduce congestion. A healthy city must provide alternatives to congestion: convenient bicycling/walking/transit, compact development, pricing roads/parking, etc. And all of these healthy alternatives are much more likely, politically, when there is a lot of congestion. It is no coincidence that those cities with the worst congestion have the best transit.4


Many cities have set modal share targets for balanced and sustainable transport modes, particularly 30% of non-motorized (cycling and walking) and 30% of public transport. A larger plan on limiting road facilities has to take into account provisions for public transport & NMT as well. The modal share of NMT is pretty abysmal for a populated country like ours. Today no road widening includes a default NMT/PT lanes. If transport involves moving humans from place A to place B in the most sustainable way we are exactly not doing that.

In the short term a lot of wastage in built out bandwidth is seen. This leads to traffic jams in addition to volume induced congestion. The effect of this suboptimal usage of bandwidth compounds the feeling of congestion and hence making us feel it is much worse than it actually is

Using existing road width efficiently

In India specifically, today there are many causes of misuse of the current bandwidth. The 3 E’s of traffic namely Engineering, Education & Enforcement are broken. This contributes to traffic jams which take the form of abrupt slowing down of traffic just to sort themselves out on the streets hence causing backups taking a while to unclog. Lets look at the following factors which slow down traffic

Bad Engineering

Inconsistent Lanes – Most lane markings on the roads are ill defined. The lane sizes vary anywhere from 3.5 to 4 meters or more in most stretches and are not consistent all along. Effects of this are merging, severe slowdown of movement and lower than average speed resulting from encroachment into each other’s lanes & fight over road space. This is undesirable as the road engineers have lost control of the traffic & have left the road users to define the space & fend for themselves.

The lane widths need to be  tighter at 3.3 meters & consistent all along.  Especially the outer lanes, toward the curb, tend to hold all excess road space as a part of the lane.  These extra space needs to be blocked for vehicular access by turning them into well marked space for parking or for pedestrians/NMT. The lanes are also discontinuous in most parts. All lanes need to have continuity and any break or merge needs to be properly marked with clear advanced instructions in the form of well-placed signboards

AdHoc Parking – Free parking as currently practiced in the city is a major contributor to this congestion in fact it has been observed in places like palace road that roads have been widened only to accommodate parking. If we have to make any impact in managing traffic we need to impose true cost of parking on the users. These free goods only compound the inducements already provided by widening.

Poor Quality roads – World Bank studies have confirmed that the economic losses due to insufficient  pavement  thickness  and  poor  riding quality is estimated to be of the  order  of  Rs. 30000 crores (300 billion) per annum. This is only the vehicular operation cost and does not include cost of traffic jams caused due to slowdowns & congestions It is clear that interruptions like potholes on the road slow down vehicles causes a backup & jams. Ensuring unscientific speed breakers & potholes are removed from the road

Insufficient traffic Channelizing – Traffic channelizing is the essence of traffic engineering. It is essential to tackle junctions & merges in such a way that there are no impediments to the speed of travel. The average speed of travel can be increased by keeping traffic flowing smoother at lower speed than by having a high speed corridor with many interruptions which bring down the average speed.  Junction optimization with synchronized signaling & vehicle actuated traffic lights can cut down on travel time significantly on key corridors

Bad driver Education

While Engineering lays down the standard for how the traffic should flow it is entirely useless of the drivers who use them are not aware of the appropriate driving practices. It has been found that drivers in the cities are from a lower socio economic background and arrive from places outside the city which do not have a high standard of road infrastructure. It is important then that these people are trained & certified/recertified on the upgraded infrastructure separately. A written & driving test in an RTO office should be made mandatory for people who have obtained license from outside the city. Transport department officials, Police & training institutes should have their staff certified by the Engineering team for proper usage of infrastructure. The transport department needs to also ensure basic vehicle conditions like tail lights & mirrors are in use and not broken or unusable.

Bad Enforcement

Enforcement in India is characterized by low fines leading to callousness by the vehicle user. Fines need to be increased to make  it a viable deterrent & respect needs to be inculcated for Pedestrians & Bicyclists. Transportation is heavily influenced by peer behavior as it is a social exercise. If people notice some people getting away with violations they are encouraged to do the same. Hence visible policing is important to set example and induce proper driving behavior.


Prioritizing road widening projects that are already on stream needs to be completed, their results studied before moving forward and starting other similar projects. Corridors need to have a meaning and not every road which has traffic becomes a corridor. Certain so called corridors like Sankey road already have alternate roads under widening mode. Redundant corridors should not be built as it dilutes the purpose and focus of corridors

Measurement of traffic also has to be done using PCE units rather than PCU units as the weightage for heterogeneous traffic has to be considered. Passenger Car Equivalent (PCE) is essentially the impact that a mode of transport has on traffic variables (such as headway, speed, density) compared to a single car. Typical values of PCE (or PCU) are:

  • private car (including taxis or pick-up) 1
  • motorcycle 0.5
  • bicycle 0.2
  • horse drawn vehicle 4
  • bus, tractor, truck 3.5

Congestion charging

Congestion pricing or congestion charges is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. Traffic in central London post congestion charging went down by about 21 per cent, and traffic speeds went up by about 10%.  reports from the cities that have implemented congestion pricing schemes show traffic volume reductions from 10% to 30% as well as reduced air pollution. Singapore ERP pricing has been effective in maintaining an optimal speed range of 45 to 65 km/h for expressways and 20 to 30 km/h for arterial roads.5


1 Carol Jouzatis. "39 Million People Work, Live Outside City Centers." USA Today, November 4, 1997: 1A-2A. As a result of its massive highway construction, the Atlanta area is "one of the nation's worst violators of Federal standards for ground-level ozone, with most of the problem caused by motor-vehicle emissions" (Kevin Sack. "Governor Proposes Remedy for Atlanta Sprawl." The New York Times, January 26, 1999: A14).

2 Jill Kruse. "Remove It and They Will Disappear: Why Building New Roads Isn't Always the Answer." Surface Transportation Policy Project Progress VII:2 (March 1998): 5, 7.

3 Stanley Hart and Alvin Spivak. The Elephant in the Bedroom: Automobile Dependence and Denial; Impacts on the Economy and Environment. Pasadena, Calif.: New Paradigm Books, 1993, 122.

4 An excerpt from Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck North Point Press, 2000, pp. 88-94.

5 Wikipedia


idontspam's picture

Yes its a bit long but trying

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Yes its a bit long but trying to put up a comprehensive case for better planning of roads for private transport. It needs to involve understanding what is the modal share we are expecting & what that modal share means to a populous country like ours. A 40% pvt traffic in a 4mil city is different from the same 40% in a 10mil city. The modal share needs to be adjusted accordingly. 

Feedback welcome.

srinidhi's picture


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pvt traffic is on roads because of the lack of a reliable/fast PT metro is supposed to fill that gap? 2013 for phase I?

so should the govt  stall all major road works till metro phase I goes live?

Traffic patterns post metro go live(6 months?) needs to be studied..

And I am for bringing down some of the worst projects in blr immedaitely..the National College Flyover and stop work on tagore circle works..

idontspam's picture

Some numbers here from

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Some numbers here from 2008

idontspam's picture

so should the govt  stall all

204 users have liked.

so should the govt  stall all major road works till metro phase I goes live?

Complete existing projects. Hosur road & Bellary road has been in the works for a while now. Ring road signal freeing is still not done, roads are narrow due to all kinds of construction. All density numbers will be skewed now.

BMTC has about 50% modal share.With metro on stream together they can target 60% modal share by 2020. NMT can take 20%. 20% of a 14 million population will still be 2.8 million or 28 lakhs on the road. Once the strategy is laid out, you can then go to the people with plans & road development numbers. Commuter rail will shift some burden to the outskirts as well. Right now its reactionary.

Remember modal share is not about car ownership but about trips on the road. So 6 million people can own cars but you let only 2.8 million ply for daily commute. It has to be expensive (time+money) enough for the rest to use everyday. Automatically the need to own a car comes down & rentals (sharing cars) will increase for weekend & long distance travel. Low foot print is achieved by PT and hence the available road bandwidth increases

Here is a good general study

idontspam's picture

95% modal share for PT?

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Interesting read here... the punch in the modal share is this segment regarding their commuter rail+bus


Which, then, brings us to the city’s suburban rail and road transportation network. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) says it’s the lifeline for 88% of the population. Technically correct. But it’s not as if the remaining 12%, 15 if you take my calculation mentioned earlier, take out their cars, scooters and motorbikes every day. The number of people using public transport, say experts-in-the-know, is closer to 95% on any working day.

That’s a world record. No city in the world, not New York, not Moscow not Tokyo or Beijing, has practically its entire population depending on the public transportation network. It’s a testament to the resilience and innovation of the people who are running an overburdened and antiquated network. 

Raghu P S's picture

Dear Auther,          So you

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Dear Auther,

         So you say traffic will only increase if we widen the road. And you don't favor four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour? Please let others know where you live in Bangalore, the road infront of your house, we will make it narrow !! Will you agree?
And please sell all your cars too and lead us.

Lets make all road very narrow as per him !! What an idea sirji !!! wow !!!!!


idontspam's picture

So you say traffic will only

223 users have liked.

So you say traffic will only increase if we widen the road

Thats the evidence, read it once more & look for information on induced traffic on the net if you are not convinced.

And you don't favor four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour? 

I prefer 4 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic over 10 or 16 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic. 

 the road infront of your house, we will make it narrow !! Will you agree?

It already narrow its only 30 ft. Its a local street. 

And please sell all your cars too and lead us.

You dont have to sell the car, ask for PT/NMT facilities & use that as an alternative. Keep the car parked for a rainy day or non work commute. If you still have to use the car for work commute or during peak hours, it should be more expensive than PT/NMT for usage in the city. Feel free to pay & use.

Here is yet another resource on induced demand. quoting summary from that report

Systems of mass transportation can contribute to environmental protection only if improvements in public transport are paralleled by measures to deaccelerate motorized traffic, thus allowing for changes in the modal split without increasing overall traffic.
Raghu P S's picture

Induced traffic

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Induced traffic ,

Yes its there, but why? this is because we just widen a road and other road users will start using it.

Almost every other road is crowed. Induced traffic shows people switch from other congested roads to new road. Otherwise, from where on earth these new cars all on a sudden appear?

Latent demand ,

  that    tha Yes that too is there, but why? If there is no proper road and lot of traffic jam, who wants to take that nightmare ? We just sit at home, and bang head on wall !! No life outside home !! Never get a chance to meet friends and familes. Is that what we should do?

Affordability of the people to buy a vehicle is going up, more and more people are moving to cities. How can we stop them? They also wants live in this world right? How can we say no to them?

After all having narrow road means more air polution ? Is not?  The Bangalore peak hour traffic speed is just 18kmph  . How H

How much air population its adding?



idontspam's picture

 from where on earth these

204 users have liked.

 from where on earth these new cars all on a sudden appear?

Annual growth rate of vehicles in Bangalore is 7 to 10% (source: BTP) that where it comes from. Its called buying a car & it shows up on the road when you use it, otherwise it will sit in the garage. 

We just sit at home, and bang head on wall !! No life outside home !! Never get a chance to meet friends and familes. Is that what we should do?

Is this what people did before we had cars? Psychatric help will be required if these are the withdrawal symptoms

Affordability of the people to buy a vehicle is going up, more and more people are moving to cities. How can we stop them? They also wants live in this world right? How can we say no to them?

Dont say no to buying. The more time it spends idling in the garage or paying for congestion or parking when driven, the more they will think about using that money elsewhere, like on a cycle or bus/train pass or on a rental for that occasional use.You have not read about commuter rail, brownfield cities & other urban planning strategies? Spend some time there it is highly educative.


Ravi_D's picture


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It is quite natural to think that wider roads (and more of them) will help with current traffic congestion. But it is just a temporary fix. That is the approach taken by many countries, and is already old fashioned. I have seen a example, first hand, where 4 lanes were widened to 10, and traffic jams just became longer after 3-4 years. So you make it 16 lanes? And where does it stop?

We have a living community. Every time the road gets wider, communities get affected quite bad. Character of the city changes. May be for good in the short run. But where does it stop again?

Long term strategies cannot rely on more supply end of this equation. Demand has to be managed, and we don't do either properly. Planning is premitive in our city (and country to a large extent). All we are doing is creating more problems.

That is where the modal share talk comes into play. If someone wants to use his car (I do), he/she pays for the benefits that accrue to that person. Simple. Right now, I don't pay (or pay negligible amount), and inconvinience a lot of others. That has to change. Else, everyone will suffer. 


murali772's picture

is there a choice?

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We just sit at home, and bang head on wall !! No life outside home !! Never get a chance to meet friends and familes. Is that what we should do?

95% Mumbaikars; perhaps to slightly lesser extent people in Paris, London, New York, Amsterdam, etc, go about their daily life relying largely on public transport. And, in Los Angeles, Bangalore, etc, they set out from home in style in cars to remain stuck for hours together in traffic - banging their heads against the car dash-boards.

Is there a choice on the way forward?

Muralidhar Rao
dvsquare's picture

Only way to go forward is to make public transport inviting

198 users have liked.

Yes, that's the only way.

Mumbaikar's have a very fast way of commute and that is local trains, having frequency every 5 minutes (some slow stopping at many stations and some fast stopping at main stations). They don't have to worry about their schedule as if they miss one train, they will catch another in next 5 mins. Inspite of too-crowded train compartments, they still prefer them, because the duration, the time-saving. Others who want to be in comfort, take 1st class compartments, a little costlier.

The problem with a Bangalorean is that we still don't have good and comfortable public transport service still. With addition of volvo, we got some comfort though, and as a result, many people have opted out their private cars or autos and start taking ride in AC volvos, Does that not give any intention that if you give a good service, people are wiling to join?

Also, Bangaloreans are very much concerned about last-mile connectivity, harrassment by autos if auto is to be used to connect from the bus-stop to their house. Also, if in case the commute has to happen on late-evenings, one is forced to take their private vehicles, reluctantly though that's the only option they have. In mumbai, people commute by local-trains even in late evenings and then autos for last mile connectivity.

As I earlier said, just blaming private cars and their owners is not the solution, because we also know that as population is increasing, affordability also increasing, and whatever charges extra govt keeps, rich can still pay and be in comfort while middle class, lower middle class will just make way for those rich by traveling in public transport, isn't it?

Instead, what should be done is -

(1) Make public transport attractive, the infrastructure better, and selectively comfortable.

(2) More concentration on last-mile connectivity.

Doing this,

All the people who are reluctantly taking their private vehicles will hop-on PT,
All the people who are concerned about safety and last-mile connectivity, they will also hop-on PT.
All the people who can afford and still want private, can do so by paying a little more than others.
All the people who can afford occasionaly can choose to alternate between private cars and PT.

Because, I believe, if you offer good service, in today's world, people accept that and use that. Today's generation think more about comfort, good-service and time-saving. Who would like to get stuck in traffic just for status symbol ? Instead, now a days, the culture is more about going GREEN, using bus, using bicycles etc etc, these are cool ways for this generation.


murali772's picture

And, that will bring us back to - -

215 users have liked.

Make public transport attractive.

And, that my dear Sir, will not happen as long as the entire job remains entrusted to a government monopoly service provider, viz the BMTC - check this

Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

 whatever charges extra govt

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 whatever charges extra govt keeps, rich can still pay and be in comfort while middle class, lower middle class will just make way for those rich by traveling in public transport, isn't it?

Firstly, this statement assumes that PT is uncomfrtable. It need not be. Is volvo uncomfortable? WIll metro be uncomfortable? You have a choice, you will have comfortable & value for money transportation options available & have super expensive pvt transport. You can pick what you want depending on which side of the bed you wake up & how much your pocket will allow. But roads will be built for 3 mil if thats the modal share that will be set & frozen. 

Secondly, if the 3 mil who will use pvt transport will be the super rich, whats wrong with that? Let them pay and use, that money can be used to make better PT/NMT facilities for the rest of us who cant afford. You cant have zero pvt transport, but know how much you want to allow & build for that is the point being made. Who that 3 mil will be cannot be decided by ideology, caste system, religion or artifically pulled out of a hat as lottery. It has to be thru time+cost adjustment. 

But all points about PT reach are valid. Even though we should not expect it to be point to point the last mile & duration of services leave a lot to be desired. But pressure will need to be put at PT/NMT & not on getting more roads

dvsquare's picture

@IDS, I have not assumed PT

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I have not assumed PT as uncomfortable. I have explicitely gave AC volvos as good examples of good & comfortable service. The line you mentioned, there I actually meant "desire", I mean people can have desire to roam in their personal cars occasionally, when affordability increases.

Also, already Don't you think, the (road taxes):(roads quality & infra) ratio is one of highest in country compared to other states?

@Murali Sir,

I know, BMTC wants to monopolize and at the same time, not exploring its own expansion catering to all levels and needs of people.


idontspam's picture

Also, already Don't you

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Also, already Don't you think, the (road taxes):(roads quality & infra) ratio is one of highest in country compared to other states?

Unfortunately its low in the rest of the country so this looks higher. True cost will be lot more higher. But blanket taxes on everybody is not the way to go. Charges must be apportioned to pvt vehicles only when used.

Singapore has just decreased minimum parking requirements for new buildings coming up, meaning builders are allowed to build lesser car parking spaces in their skyscrapers. Quoting from their Land transport master plan below (ERP is their congestion charging system)

Besides ERP, parking policy is another lever that will restrain car usage. We will continue with the current approach where Government determines the minimum parking provision while car park operators determine the parking charges based on market demand. As we apply the prevailing parking provision standards (which have been progressively lowered since 1990) to new developments, and allow conversion of some excess parking spaces in old buildings, parking supply in the city will gradually decline over time and parking charges will rise.

dvsquare's picture

Sorry, Again I have written

199 users have liked.

Sorry, Again I have written half the thing, what I wanted to say is -

Also, already Don't you think, the (road taxes):(roads quality & infra) ratio is one of highest in karnataka as compared to other states in India?

That's what my point, don't we feel sad when we look on the roads we drive, either they are full of holes or we see craters coming in newly built roads as well. Is it private vehicles problem when government sanctions huge malls/buildings on narrow roads creating huge jams because of that? We have free parking at most of the places in city, before that there is no proper infra at all for parking, as one of the example I quoted here.

See, I am not against any congestion charges or any other charges which discourages private driving, but before that I want other things to happen which makes people happily shifting to PT with a smile and also provide convenience to them. And that is possible just by -

(1) Make PT accessible, reliable and convenient. People will be more than happy to board PT.

(2) Have a proper parking infrastructure in city at all the crowded places of shopping etc (like madiwala etc), and make it paid according to the area. Automatically people will think once before they take their private vehicles out.

(3) Last mile connectivity, it solves one of the huge concerns of the public today.

After this is done, next step to levy congestion charges , so that people will be able to accept that. They will be able to see something in return what they have paid for, and what they have been asked to pay further.

Similarly, when BBMP thought of levy parking charges for night parking, I was not totally against that, but I wanted BBMP to take care of other free parkings prevalent in the city first and then take the residential parking to be made paid.

Do one thing first, and let people take in confidence by giving them back and then do another thing (step by step), and then witness the reception, public will take it whole heartedly.


idontspam's picture

Do one thing first The first

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Do one thing first

The first thing that is happening is widening. Go back & read this line "And all of these healthy alternatives are much more likely, politically, when there is a lot of congestion. It is no coincidence that those cities with the worst congestion have the best transit."

So the first thing should be to stop widening road then work on alternates like road use efficiency, PT/NMT.

This part is not sinking in so let me repeat - Bandwidth addition & status quo on private transport is not going to  make people ask/demand better public transit they will just use pvt transport as an escape instead of demanding better PT. So you are not right in your "automatically" statements.

Show me ONE official document which sets target modal share amongst different modes & strategies towards achieving it.

ashok_n's picture

Public transport vs Private transport

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I agree with the views expressed by the author idontspam here. There is no alternative than making private transport prohibitively expensive.

Simply, increasing just the road tax is not going to help. Road tax is a one-time payment which means if you pay higher road tax, then the incentive is to use the road more to bring down the per km cost. The thinking goes that as I have already paid a hefty road tax, I might as well use the roads more. Road tax payment should be made yearly so that people feel the pinch with a 5% built-in increase every year.

The road tax collected should be demonstrably and provably shown to improve the public transport infrastructure. For e.g if 100 crores is collected as road tax, then at a well advertised public function, buy 100 volvo buses and release them (or simply distribute cycles to college students). Right now, even if there is a cess on petrol in Bangalore for the metro construction, one does not know whether it reaches the target correctly.

Slightly off-topic, Companies (especially IT companies) have to seriously think of reducing commuting for their employees. I don't know why 20,000 Infosys employees have to shuttle from one corner of the city to the other to reach their office. Use Telecom technology innovatively. Open smaller remote offices where proper (and secure) network connectivity and uninterrupted power can be given and employees can login from there. Put an end to grand campuses and unsustainable commuting.

idontspam's picture

 BMTC wants to monopolize and

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 BMTC wants to monopolize and at the same time, not exploring its own expansion catering to all levels and needs of people.

Got this info today, asuming a growth in ridership of 3% corresponding to the population growth of the city, BMTC must be adding 200 buses every year to their 6000 fleet to keep up the modal share of 41% they currently hold. They need to replace an additional 600 buses every year to take care of poor performing buses (>10yrs should go). So just to keep the current modal share they need to be buying 800 buses every year. If they want to increase modal share they will need to add atleast 400 buses + 600 replacement = 1000 buses. 

Whats the problem? Apparently last year they didnt buy a single bus. So by not adding assets they show better profitability. But who is getting the you-know-what? being a monopoly player they have to be addressing PT concerns more than their bottomline.

I am told they arent going the whole hog on feeder services because they are worried about profitability on some routes. Reach for BMTC is dependent on profitability, so unless there are people desperately falling over each other for a bus you are not going to get a route and people are not going to choose the bus because they will realize there is no bus & buy a car/2 wheeler. Classic catch 22.

Disclaimer: I havent validated the numbers but they are from a reliable source.

Raghu P S's picture

hi idontspam

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Dear idontspam,
    I was not questioning whatever you said here. Please understand that you can type a lot, but you need to convince others too.
To my simple question you are saying "Psychiatric help will be required if these are the withdrawal symptoms" !! Don't you know how to handle criticism ?

My question is simple and kindly answer

You say traffic will only increase if we widen a road, So if we make the road narrower will the traffic jam reduce ? YES or NO ?

   I agree with your view point, just widening a road will not help.
We need to improve our Public transport system, have metro, mono, educate users etc etc. Are these all long term plans eh?

warm regards,

idontspam's picture

My question is simple and

231 users have liked.

My question is simple and kindly answer

My answer is simple it took some of us 4+ years to learn a lot of truths. I hope the knowledge can make others smarter sooner. 

murali772's picture

BMTC's questionable profitability

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@ ids  -  Whats the problem? Apparently last year they didnt buy a single bus. So by not adding assets they show better profitability.

But, they added a lot of assets in the form of TTMC's. And, with less than 10% utilisation of all of them on an average, they are still managing to show fairly good profits. When the CAG report comes a year or two down the line, we will perhaps be more enlightened. But, why should a Ashoka be worried? He may not even be in power then to answer questions. He obviously believes in the dictum - Make hay while the sun shines.


@ Raghu  -   Are these all long term plans eh?

Likely scenario resulting at the end of 3 to 6 months of implementation of policy - check this

Muralidhar Rao
dvsquare's picture

@ids Bandwidth addition &

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Bandwidth addition & status quo on private transport is not going to  make people ask/demand better public transit they will just use pvt transport as an escape instead of demanding better PT.

If you ask about the normal citizens, common people, not much people bother about local issues around them, they just find the workaround, it will be always like that, and in a way its true slightly that they have voted and they have a elected representative. So, in this way, onus is on BMTC (service provider) and govt to provide the better services.

I am not supportive of road-widening, as I have mentioned many times, because after widening, most of the roads are stil being used for illegal encroachers and invalid parkings, as I mentioned here.

Because, normal public in general doesn't want to go into fighting with service providers, they just want to take things as "chalta hai, aisa hi hota hai" etc etc, and they wil try to have some workaround affordable to them.


murali772's picture

car on its way out from cities

209 users have liked.

With politicians and most citizens still largely behind them, Zurich’s planners continue their traffic-taming quest, shortening the green-light periods and lengthening the red with the goal that pedestrians wait no more than 20 seconds to cross.

“We would never synchronize green lights for cars with our philosophy,” said Pio Marzolini, a city official. “When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am worth less than a car.”

For the full report in the New York Times, click here.

Perhaps this report will open the eyes of those who still favour car travel in cities to the way the world is evolving.

Muralidhar Rao
ashok_n's picture


203 users have liked.

Read in a Newsweek article that London has reduced traffic by 21% (quoted by Idontspam also above) and also London's air quality now is the best in the last 100 years. All thanks to better public transport and congestion charging, and not because of road widening/flyover construction.

idontspam's picture

And while we add lanes, here

196 users have liked.

And while we add lanes, here is stockholm removing lanes. 

Imagine this: A major city center redevelopment scheme would take down two highway bridges and build one replacement, shrink vehicular access from 12 to 8 lanes (6 for cars, 2 for trams and buses), expand cycle, pedestrian and public transit capacity, diminish the number and height of proposed new buildings after public comment, and add a sizable park also at the urging of the public. No developer input is solicited or accepted until a final design is approved by the City Council and fully designed. Plus, the long and involved process, with its extensive public input, actually thrills city planners.

Sound like a fantasy?

For Americans, yes, but not in Stockholm


Today, there are only one-third the number of cars than in the 1960s, Schroeder says, noting that congestion pricing since 2007 and highways outside of the center removed considerable traffic. The 25,000 bikers are expected to double by 2030. Bus ridership is supposed to jump considerably, as well.

idontspam's picture

Tokyo, the megacity that works

219 users have liked.

With over half the world's population now living in cities, Tokyo believes it has lessons for a crowded planet.

Although Tokyo dwarfs the other top megacities of Mumbai, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and New York, it has less air pollution, noise, traffic jams, litter or crime, lots of green space and a humming public transport system.

Streets are rarely choked with cars because most city-dwellers don't have one, in part because they would have to own or rent a permanent parking space for it, in part because buses, trains or bicycles are viable alternatives.

Under a 10-year plan, Tokyo aims to create 1,000 hectares of new green area and plant one million roadside trees, improve air quality and aggressively push solar energy and hybrid and electric cars.


idontspam's picture

  Poor public transport

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Poor public transport chokes Bangalore: Police


"There are four million vehicles in the city for a population of eight million. No other city in India has such a highest ratio (1:2) of vehicle-population density," Bangalore Additional Commissioner of Police Praveen Sood told reporters here.

"This is because there is no efficient public transport system and the road infrastructure is poor," he added 

Sood also moaned about lack of lane discipline, chaotic driving habits and narrow roads

dvsquare's picture

 Under a 10-year plan, Tokyo

239 users have liked.

 Under a 10-year plan, Tokyo aims to create 1,000 hectares of new green area and plant one million roadside trees, improve air quality and aggressively push solar energy and hybrid and electric cars.

Our government or our BBMP always come up with such idea, or say compensatory plans when they cut the trees. There are already a lot of money being allocated and people deployed for all these, but the problem is, they don't take it seriously. They plant lakhs of tress, but then what about maintainence? Money allocated, but being eaten by officers, plants and even the trees lose their lives because of all these neglect. Newly built roads chokes the base of trees, there is no plan in place to make sure when they make new roads or footpaths, they should give proper care to existing trees there, as I mentioned here.


srinidhi's picture

BTP influencing road works..

197 users have liked.

"The State government will consider widening of seven roads in the City based on the recommendations of traffic police, City in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy has said.
The roads being considered for widening are: stretch between Mekhri Circle and BDA Head Office (Bellary Road), Dairy Circle to Sagar Apollo Hospital (Bannerghatta Road), Bennaganahalli-Mahadevapura stretch (KR Puram Road), Mission Road or Devanga Hostel Road (near Hudson Circle), Thanisandra Junction (ORR), Silk Board-29th Main (near Jayadeva Hospital) and Hebbal flyover."

more here

Since when and why did police don the role of town planners? I understand they are the best source for information on current  traffic conditions, but thats just an input for town planning which actually needs to look into widening/signal-free corridors etc..considering travel patterns/metro influence/future growth etc 

Its not very encouraging to see the new govt blindly getting into the 'jugad' mode.. 

Shashank Baravani's picture

How about shared cabs to reduce no of single occupant vehicles?

219 users have liked.
A possible alternative to road widening is to reduce the number of private vehicles on the road. And one way do that is through shared cabs for office commutes. UrbanDrive ( aims to  help working professionals in various parts of Bangalore like Whitefields, Kadugodi, Hebbal, etc to commute to office on a shared cab model. This eliminates the need for everyone to drive his/own car and instead share a taxi. comment guidelines

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