Mumbai is plagued by traffic congestion; long commute given the linear topography of the city; lack of mixed land use patterns; and an over burdened transport network. To add to this, the level of PM10, a perilous pollutant, in this city is six times the acceptable limit.
Each day, Mumbai suburban railways cater to around 7.5 million passengers, while close to 4.5 million passengers use public buses as per MMRDA's Comprehensive Transport Study in 2008. Yet, the roads are dominated by private cars that mostly cater to just one person. Around 250 new cars enter Mumbai roads everyday.
Automobile growth rate is 12 per cent per annum, while population growth can be pegged at a growth rate of 0.5 per cent per annum. The increasing dominance of private vehicles is perhaps the most important reason for congestion.
An increase in the number of roads and flyovers only leads to an exponential rise in traffic—is a proven fact worldwide. What is the solution? All cities are looking to have 'livable cities', which will have lesser pollution, accidents, travel-time, cost, fuel consumption and road-rage.
We shall concentrate on 'carrying people and not vehicles'. We need to modernise our public transport, especially buses which take less space, use less fuel and pollute less per capita (as avg. 40 people travel in one bus). Bus lanes will help overcome traffic jams. We also need world class cycling and walking infrastructure. Travel needs and lengths can be reduced by promoting mixed land use, carpooling, staggered working hours, working from home, different parking policies, congestion tax, traffic discipline, restriction on vehicle registration, etc.
Vijayshree Pednekar is an Architect-Transport planner and is currently the Program Coordinator for Mumbai Transport Forum, formed with the support of Observer Research Foundation Mumbai.