Andheri resident, Jigar Shah (29), has hardly used his Maruti Swift since he bought it in 2006.
“On weekdays, driving gets frustrating,” says the businessman. “It takes me over 2 hours to reach my Marine Lines office. By train, it takes 45 minutes.
Shah is just one lone voice among millions of Mumbaiites who complain about traffic congestion that has become an integral part of city life.
Only last week, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan stressed on the need to better public transport to ease traffic congestion in the city and efforts will be made in this direction.
Chavan made this statement during Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to the city on Saturday.
The state has told the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to identify areas as exclusive ‘public transport zones’, forbidden to private vehicles.
The aim is that people park private vehicles in parking lots and use public transport.
Recently, a meeting was held on urban planning to develop alterative modes of public transport.
Urban planner and former mayor of Bogota in Colombia, Enrique Penalosa, said that use of private transport be discouraged and public transport system be effectively implemented in Mumbai.
The city roads see over 10 lakh vehicles ply every day and the number is rising at an annual average of 60,000 vehicles.
Officials say the development process will be incomplete if traffic control is not done in conjunction with capacity
improvement by constructing flyovers.
“Traffic control measures and capacity building like elevated roads must be done simultaneously for desired traffic management,” said Additional Chief of Transport Planning of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority R. Ramanna.
The BMC is exploring other methods to decongest the city. Like cycling tracks, increasing parking rates and installing Area Traffic Control systems.
“People must appreciate bicycles as an option for private vehicles,” said former BMC commissioner Sharad Kale.
“Congestion taxes can work in Mumbai and government should think of implementing it. It can be levied during peak hours,” said Ajit Shenoy, advisor to non-governmental organisation Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai.
Suggestions have also been made to levy high parking rates where parking is at a peak.
With many flyovers awaiting completion, despite crossed deadlines and newer infrastructure projects like Monorail, Metro and roads linking awaiting completion, it might be a while before Mumabaiites are in a position to zip on the city’s congested roads.