As a young basket-baller during mid 70’s, I often used to get the opportunity of visiting Bombay (now Mumbai) from Bangalore and play in tournaments in Matunga. And once you are in Bombay, you can’t resist going to the famous VT Station. It was here that when I used to stand on the balcony of the VT station from where you could see almost all the railway lines ending at VT station itself, I would see a local train coming in almost every alternate minute and terminating at VT station. The moment the train stopped, out came a large swarm of people, in thousands perhaps, and quickly moved towards the exit. At the same time, another swarm of people, waiting on the platform, got into the train and within minutes the train departed to some unknown destination. And then another train came and went, then another and another, it was a non-stop inflow and outflow of thousands of people to and from the VT station. Often I used to observe this pattern of people movement from one location to another and wonder as to from where are they coming and to where are they going and why?
Fast forward to today’s Bangalore. When I stand near the side of any main road, I see a road full of vehicles each trying to out beat the other. Every inch of road space is filled with vehicles till there is no more space left. It’s like water getting filled in a canal. It’s no different in other metropolitan cities of India. Once again, I get the same question in my mind; from where are they coming, going where and why? Is there a solution to this mad traffic at all? Will road expansions and traffic streamlining solve the problems at all? My thoughts on the reasons and possible ways to explore solutions:
Why does someone venture to travel?
Of course, there could be hundred reasons for someone to venture out of his/her house and travel towards another part of the city. But if we want to identify at least a few major but commonly occurring needs, they could be:
- Adults going to work
- Children going to school/college
- Family goes to cinema/shopping/functions/visit relatives, friends
- People going to airport/railway/bus stations
As the concept of finding a house or place of work or getting admitted into a school or college has rarely any importance on proximity, it is a common practice for people to travel from one part of the city to another for one or more reasons mentioned above. People travel from North to South and vice versa. It is quite natural that the criss-crossing of vehicles choke the central part of the city.
Another interesting phenomenon is the setting up of large establishments employing large work force at one outskirt location of the city. For example some of the large IT companies have workforce exceeding 15,000 setting up their campus say in electronic city of Bangalore. Employees from all parts of the city start moving towards electronic city simultaneously in the morning and converge on to the last few miles of road at the same time thus causing a literal choking of the entire stretch of road. I call this chicken’s neck and it takes just one blockage on this road to disrupt the entire movement of traffic. This also results in huge loss of working hours to the affected companies.
The city authorities could keep demolishing buildings including shops, houses etc. and keep expanding roads but it will only further increase traffic for all those who have earlier given up traveling will start venturing and more will move in too. And some day when all houses and shops have been demolished and all roads fully expanded, we may have a city full of broad and nice roads, flyovers and metros but with no one living inside the city!
It’s human to expect someone else to solve my problems. And we keep waiting for that to happen eternally. Is there some way the traveler himself can contribute towards reducing his traveling needs so that it contributes to the overall reduction in traffic density, even if it is only 10% less?
Why not look at simply swapping homes and moving in to locations that would reduce traveling by at least 30% – 50% on a daily basis? As seen in the diagram, suppose resident – 1 staying in the north part of the city has two traveling needs towards south of the city and similarly the opposite for resident-2 then would it reduce the traveling significantly if these two residents swap homes? Now whether the swap is only on rental basis and how do we arrive at rental figures and agree for a differential payment based on which rent is higher or lower is a separate process.
If people show the interest to explore this concept then there could be incentives provided by the city authorities, employers and others to encourage this. Also real estate web sites like say magic bricks or similar ones could have a separate section for swap homes people. Reduction in travel will directly contribute to lesser pollution and a better and greener city. The endeavor should be to encourage people to live in the proximity of maximum of their daily needs and as far as possible avoid crossing across the city on daily basis.
Does this sound like a crazy idea?
[This post has been written by Mr. M.A. Parthasarathy. He has over 30 years experience in field of I.T and has won many accolades through-out his career. You can get in touch with him at [email protected]]