Though authorities are mulling over the introduction of congestion tax on private vehicles in the city to reduce traffic jams during peak hours, experts said the congestion tax model is unlikely to be efficient for the city.
Transport expert Jitendra Gupta said: “In Mumbai, we don’t have proper east-west connectivity, including public transport. So motorists who travel on the east-west corridor have no choice but to use private vehicles, and they will be forced to pay congestion tax.” Authorities are supposed to strengthen public transport with metro, trans-harbour rails and the like before introducing congestion tax, Gupta said.
Statistics provided by transport experts shows Mumbai has just 4,000 public transport buses to cater to a more than 1.3 crore population, while Hong Kong, which has population of 75 lakh, has 12,000 public transport buses.
“We will have to boost the public transport system before putting in place a congestion tax. If people have a sound transport service to go to from any corner of the city, they would prefer public transport,” said Arun Datar, transport expert.
Datar said the government must also ensure the tax model is transparent and the money collected through congestion tax is used to improve the city’s public transport. “We should also discourage people from buying additional vehicles by imposing huge registration taxes. But we need political will for all this.”
Government authorities, too, are not sure whether levying congestion tax will help. “In London, where the congestion tax model has been successful, central business districts are in the centre of the city, while in Mumbai they are scattered. So how will you demarcate a congestion tax zone?” said a MMRDA official, requesting anonymity. “We also don’t have proper transport services and arterial road connectivity, so congestion tax will not help us in long run.”