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14 February 2007

Rights and Restrictions - on Mumbai roads

(this is an old post of 2005)

I was reading in the newspaper about how very soon a special lane for BEST buses will be introduced in Mumbai. Good idea.

But as I travelled to work today with all vehicles travelling in single file in what looked to be a three lane road I could not help but think that soon the city will also need a lane only for humans to walk. Because lets face it . That is what is happening today and by the law of value it is human life that is supposed to be highest. Which means I cannot complain if people are walking on half of the road. I am not even going to begin commenting about people crossing the road at any point that is suitable- that would be a different topic. To come back to the lane theory. Well what are walkers to do? The footpath which was originally meant for pedestrians have been illegally occupied by hawkers and shop extensions complete what with awnings and goods displayed. Then take one lane that is taken up by illegal parking. I say illegal because while my private car of a tax paying citizen is towed away in the blink of an eye, auto, trucks, tankers and taxis cheerfully park at any, believe me, just any point in the road. Some times I have also seen them not just parked waiting for a potential passenger but to have a snack, chat with other drivers or just simply because the fancy took them- to watch the view or day dream - It happens only in India!. So with the footpath gone, one lane gone, one lane for the BEST buses, obviously we need more investments in Infrastructure- we need to build Flyovers for the private cars!

Mumbai needs not just more investments in upgrading roads, public transport, railway stations but also severe restrictions on roads and footpaths for their original use.

Meanwhile massive efforts by BEST to upgrade their services and buses are definitely providing much required succour to hassled commuters. I was also delighted to see this absolutely simple, plain vanilla but supremely effective effort in putting their basic information on routes on the internet site, thereby using ICT for passenger service.

Mumbai Roads are not the only reason for traffic problems - discipline,enforcement of regulation and governance is also lacking.

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