Global Rush Hour!
Traffic might be the bane of most of our existences. Especially those of us living in large metro cities in India like Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. But it is a problem and like all other problems, there is a solution. Whether the reason for over whelming traffic in a city is physical, economic or socio-political, one needs to engineer a solution that can efficiently tackle traffic in a city.
Take London as the first example. Its a great world city but since its an old city, its transport system has not been able to catch up to the needs of its economy and its millions of citizens. There solution is controversial but quite effective. With Congestion charging which pioneers new transport management tools. This one move directly tackles reducing congestion, improving bus services, improving journey time reliability for car users and making the distribution of goods and services more reliable, sustainable and efficient all at one go. All charges collected are further ploughed into road infrastructure development. Other countries like Singapore, some cities in Sweden and the Netherlands have already followed London’s lead.
In the US, many states tackle heavy rush hour traffic by creating designated lanes that become High-Occupancy Vehicle or car-pooling only lanes during rush hour periods, while open to all vehicles at other times.
In Brazil’s capital city Sao Paulo, every vehicle has a day designated where they cannot travel the roads during rush hour. The day of the week for each vehicle is derived from the last digit and of course the traffic police and camera networks help!
Manila has a very similar system. Their Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program, is known as the Number Coding Scheme. In this city, vehicles are prohibited from plying all roads within the metropolis, depending on the last digit of their license plates and on the day of the week. Additionally vehicles are banned on the roads from 7 AM to 7 PM with a concession for private vehicles who enjoy a five-hour window from 10 AM to 3 PM. Public transportation has no such restriction.
A small country like Japan also suffers from major congestion. In their first phase of traffic control, their expressways that are operated by beneficiaries-pay principle, charge a hefty toll fee, to discourage driving and increase use of mass transport. India is not the only one with traffic problems and we can learn from the many nations around the world where small moves have lead to big results.