The exponential growth in the number of vehicles, limited space, sagging road infrastructure and the huge delays in mass transport projects have all contributed towards traffic congestion and made commute hell for Mumbaiites.
While the city’s road length has increased by just 360 km in the past two decades, the total number of vehicles registered in the city has increased by 13 lakh.
“During peak hour, it takes two hours or more to reach from one end of the city to the other,” said a railway official who lives in Colaba. Every day, at least 350 new vehicles are registered and every year there’s an at least 10% rise in the number of new vehicles. By April 2012, the city’s vehicular population was 20.35 lakh, and it’s expected to touch 22 lakh by the end of March.
“The state has no power to restrict vehicle registration and the Centre can’t make separate rules for city,” said SK Sharma, state transport secretary.
That’s just the official figures. An office with the Regional Transport Office (RTO) said the actual number of vehicles on the city’s roads is likely to be higher as to evade octroi many Mumbaiites register their vehicles in Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pen or Panvel RTOs.
While on the one hand, the government needs to gets its act together and quickly build infrastructure such as sea links, coa-stal roads and freeways, on the other hand, people need to be discouraged from buying vehicles.
One way to dissuade people is by charging a higher fuel cess, putting in place a congestion charge for business districts, high registration fees and high parking charges, as suggested by a high power committee appointed by state on Bombay high court’s directive for finding a solution to the traffic problem.
Another way is to offer people options that are comfortable, through speedy implementation of mass transport projects such as the metro and mono rail and by upgrading and improving rail and bus network systems.
Recently, transport commissioner VN More sent a proposal to the government suggesting that a sizeable cess on fuel be levied in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which should be used for strengthening the public transport system.