States - Tamil
Mass rapid transport suggested to ease Chennai traffic
By Akila Dinakar
CHENNAI, JAN. 25. The International Workshop on
High Capacity Bus Systems which concluded recently in New Delhi, has
thrown light on the need for Chennai to take a look at its public
Jointly organised by the Delhi Transport
Corporation, the Infrastructure Development Finance Company and the
Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme of the
Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, and the Society of Indian
Automobile Manufacturers, the workshop considered the least costly
form of Mass Rapid Transport could be tried out in Chennai to ease
traffic and make the roads safer.
A publication, titled Urban Transport for Growing
Cities-High Capacity Bus Systems, edited by Geetam Tiwari,
was compiled on the occasion.
In the comparative accident statistics of the four
metropolitan cities in the country, Chennai tops the list with 2,314
buses and 1,797 accidents, while New Delhi had 928 accidents for
4,330 buses, Kolkata_306 accidents for 821 buses and Mumbai_806
accidents for 3,155 buses.
While New Delhi recorded the highest number of
fatal accidents_152 (3.5 per cent), Chennai was second with 133
fatal accidents (5.7 per cent).
While most of the speakers pointed out that the
problems of transport in cities of the third world countries were
similar such as scarce public investment resources, the solutions
were unanimously to improve high quality bus-based rapid systems.
This applied to Chennai too, a transport manager,
who was part of the workshop said. The problem of air pollution was
also addressed. As one speaker said, ``Rising volumes of air
pollution and traffic congestion have gained the attention of
authorities in virtually every major city of the world''. The
Transport Authorities in Chennai could do well to address the
lacunae like lack of good data.
``In India, vehicles were counted once, when they
are first registered but not through any yearly fees or census. The
number of vehicles in use by type and fuel, distances driven and
fuel economy are not known. Non-motorised transport is not counted
and emission tests are rare'', a study presented at the workshop
Calling for a development of a bus commuter safety
policy, which Chennai has not yet drawn, the workshop said buses and
non-motorised modes of transport would remain the backbone of
transport in mega cities. With increasing accidents and rising
automobile pollution, Chennai would do well to give priority to high
capacity bus systems at affordable fares. ``Increase in fares
because of more expensive buses is likely to shift bus passengers to
cars and two wheelers, thus increasing total pollution and
accidents, a paper said calling for a comprehensive policy of
financing of public transport including cross-subsidies.
On suggestions for financing, the polluter-pay
principle could be invoked. Owners of cars and two-wheelers must be
made to pay a pollution tax, the proceeds from which could be used
for financing more efficient bus transport, a study added.
The problem of commuters shifting to two wheelers
and cars from public transport in Chennai was also raised and the
suggestion was to make public transport more convenient, safe and
efficient. ``Policy should remove incentives for people to drive,
pollute and congest more, even if actual emissions from vehicles are
reduced by technology'', a study recommended.
A study from TRIPP said bus stops should be within
easy walking distance of home and workplace. Buses should be made
more accessible and comfortable for children, women, the elderly and
the disabled. Public transit should be made affordable for those
with low incomes while stress should be laid on improving the
quality of pedestrian and bicycle environment.
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