Commute

“Trams still run on 40 routes in Melbourne with millions of users,” says former tram conductor Roberto D'Andrea, who along with his fellow conductor Tony Graham travelled from Melbourne to Calcutta in February to promote the five-day Tramjatra festival. “It is not merely a heritage ride but used daily by commuters as part of the public transit system”. Calcutta is no Melbourne. But it can boast of two firsts: The first Indian city to build a metro line. And the only city to still have functional tram lines. The Calcutta metro of course gets all the attention and money. The…

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“I board a share auto near my house in Virugambakkam to the metro station in Ashok Nagar to get to work every day. I use a share auto on my return as well,” says G Balakumar, a frequent share auto-user in Chennai. Over the years, share autos have become an integral means of first and last-mile connectivity for many in the city. They fill a necessary gap and bolster the use of public transport in the city by providing a reliable and cheap mode of transport. With a growing user base, it becomes necessary to bring in some form of…

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It is 10 am on a Tuesday morning on Bazaar Street in Austin Town, Bengaluru. Traffic is moving smoothly, people are walking on the footpaths without hindrance. It is hard to believe that this was once a chaotic and dangerous street to use. About four months back, the footpath was virtually unusable. Shopkeepers had set up canopies and put up advertising boards that blocked the footpath. Some had piled their wares in front of their shops. The street itself was no better. Both sides were lined with street vendors, reducing the road width available for vehicles. Auto rickshaws used to…

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Namma Metro (BMRCL), after a long delay, extended the Green Line services beyond Yelachenahalli station to Silk Institute station, with additional five stops inaugurated on January 14 2021. But the new stations are not friendly to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. The metro stations have entry/exit gates on the east and west sides. For commuters on the west side, there is only one upward escalator to reach the concourse (ticketing area). However, after alighting from the concourse they have to walk down the steps (numbering about 35) to reach ground level. Recently, I watched two senior citizens struggling to…

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Arun Kumar’s daily commute from Ashok Pillar to Thiruvanmaiyur is fraught with danger. “I am at the risk of being hit by one or the other vehicle while walking on the road,” he says. "With the stormwater drain work, many footpaths that existed earlier have vanished. Now that we are forced to share road space with vehicles," he says. Vulnerable groups such as pedestrians, cyclists and persons with disabilities share these harrowing experiences navigating the city. Data released by the Greater Chennai Traffic Police in February shows that 35% (179 of the 508 people) of casualties caused by road accidents…

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In 2019, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses were on their deathbed. Once known for buses that never broke down, it was going through a particularly rough phase. Daily ridership had halved in the previous decade, down from 42 lakh to 25 lakh. Higher ticket fares, discontinuation of the AC Super Routes, rising competition and a workers’ strike in January meant it was losing crores by the month. Things took a turn for the better in the latter half, when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) promised monthly financial aid of Rs 100 crore to tide them over. But…

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OpenCity, on February 4th, organised the Bengaluru Traffic Datajam, at the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru (IIM-B). Anchored by Vaidya R and Meera K, the datajam kicked off with nearly 30 participants, from across sectors and professions, congregating to devise solutions to complex mobility problems. The issues discussed included mismanagement of traffic, promoting Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) usage, the practicality of road widening, and building elevated corridors for vehicular traffic. The datajam, supported by Oorvani Foundation with World Resources Institute (WRI) India as the knowledge partner, saw the participants engage in a day-long event that sparked off conversations and…

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I remember a story my uncle once told me. He was working in an IT office in Whitefield, and his team was scheduled to have an office meeting one morning. But that morning the boss asked if the meeting could be held online as that they were all stuck in the same traffic jam. I am reminded of this anecdote every time I get stuck in traffic in Bengaluru, which is often. Since my uncle’s time, traffic snarls in the city have only worsened, forcing the government to finally step in to improve vehicular movement on the roads.  Reportedly reacting to…

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As the morning peak hour rush begins to build up on Bengaluru’s roads, Ramesh Gowda (name changed) has been at the Goraguntepalya traffic signal, one of the most congested areas in the city, since 7.30 am. Till around 11am, he and his coworkers from the Yeshwanthpur Traffic Police Station, are on their feet, trying to ensure smooth traffic flow at the busy signal. Big trucks are allowed to ply on that stretch of road only post 11am. Traffic at the Goraguntepalya signal as shown in Google maps. Pic: Sherin Sunny Reasons for chaotic traffic The congestion at Goraguntepalya signal is…

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Switching from polluting fossil fuel sources of energy to more environment-friendly renewable and other green energy sources is today, on paper at least, a major objective in most big cities, especially for public transport systems. Bengaluru's city bus service, run by the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), is no exception. While on the one hand, BMTC is introducing more fuel and emission efficient BS-IV diesel buses, it seems to have decided to make a major switch to electric buses (e-buses). Procurement of electric buses BMTC has placed orders for over 900 electric bus orders from the Tata group, some months…

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