Spread over an area of 114 sq km, Chandigarh has a population of around 12 lakh, based on data of the 2011 census. Together with the satellite cities of Panchkula, Mohali and the bustling suburbs, it caters to a huge urban mass of around 25 lakh that is set to touch 60 lakh by 2041. But that’s nothing remarkable as compared to other such towns.
What does make Chandigarh’s traffic enormous is the fact that the city has around 10.5 lakh vehicles, and adding over 40,000 a year. This is the highest per capita vehicle ownership for a city that also boasts of the highest per capita income in India. Surveys say 86% of all households own at least one car or two-wheeler. As per the census figures, almost every second household in the city has a two-wheeler, and every fourth household has a four-wheeler.
On an average, 90 mishaps take place every month on Chandigarh’s roads, and at least three prove fatal. Especially during morning and evening hours, with vehicles pouring in from all sides, main roads are virtually choked.
Road safety expert and social activist Harman Sidhu underlines how underpasses, bridges, the metro rail project and several other projects have remained on paper.
Utter disuse of public transport worsens it further. Statistically speaking, only about 16% of all motor trips in the city are on public transport, and even the introduction of air-conditioned buses hasn’t helped.
The ‘status’ fever is to blame largely. If you don’t drive a car in Chandigarh, you are a nobody!
While mode-preference split in favour of public transport is only 16% of total motorised person trips, the share of walk trips is 17%, though there is high pedestrian traffic in the core areas. Footpaths are generally not adequate, and their condition is deteriorating.