Mumbai and Kolkata always had them but traffic jams and chaos are becoming a part of life in the capital too. With 54 lakh vehicles out on the city roads every day and construction projects all around Delhi, this is expected but should we just crib and curse while stuck in mile-long jumps till the Commonwealth Games delivers us from the mess? No, there are solutions available only if the government, traffic police and civic agencies are willing to implement them.
The Delhi traffic police have the strength of 4,216 policemen, which means for each traffic official, there are 1,304 vehicles to manage. The fact that road space has increased 3.7 times since 1971, while the number of vehicles have gone up 25.5 times doesn't help matters either. Joint Commissioner of Police Qamar Ahmed said there is no problem of traffic management in the city and the traffic police was doing its best.
The tech way out
Experts, however, say that Delhi needs 'smart policing' by depending more on information technology than conventional traffic management. “What we need is an Intelligent Transport System (ITS),” said PK Sarkar, Head of the Department of Transport Planning, School of Planning and Architecture. Sarkar said ITS can be used to disseminate information to motorists about traffic jams before hand so they can avoid such roads and take alternate routes. He said traffic can be monitored through cameras and vehicle detectors and the information sent to a central control room. This information can be processed and disseminated to motorists.
This information can be displayed on special boards across the city. “Such display boards can warn motorists about traffic snarls ahead. They can also inform about parking space nearby,” he said.
FM channels to the rescue
“Information can be aired on private FM channels to reach a larger audience. Ideally, there should be dedicated traffic channels and if possible, separate channels for different parts of the city,” he said. Ahmed said even now FM channels provide traffic information to motorists. “But they are just traffic updates sourced from listeners. We need more scientific monitoring,” Sarkar said. “Even GPS can be installed in cars that can automatically guide users to less congested roads by using data from radio,” he said.
Better road engineering
Though it is difficult to expand road network in Delhi where already 21 per cent of land use is for roads, better road engineering can be employed for optimum use. “On many arterial roads, the width of the road varies. On wide sections, large number of vehicles zoom ahead but bottlenecks get created at narrow points,” a senior traffic official said. Encroachments and illegal parking along roads also reduce the space. Dipak Mukhopadhyaya, former Engineer-in-Chief of the MCD, said encroachments are not removed because these are votebanks.
What you can do
Ahmed said the traffic police inform motorists by giving advance traffic advisories. “However, not many to people follow the advice. There is a tendency to take a chance and take the road that is expected to be busy,” he said.