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Mumbai. The city of dreams, and the Economic Capital of India has a problem that has finally surfaced. There is a new form of population in town! The city now has 510 cars per kilometre or road, that's about five times more than the national capital, Delhi.
According to the Times Of India, Mumbai's vehicle density is mostly because of lack of road space. The ever increasing vehicle population and lack of road space cause huge traffic jams, pollution, and unauthorized parking almost everywhere. This comes straight from the Maharashtra Transport Department.
"Mumbai has been bursting at the seams past few years, and if there is no control over the purchase of private cars across the city, commuting by road will be a nightmare," said transport expert Ashok Datar. Ashok has been advocating for the use of buses for transport in the suburbs and within the island-city.
Officials at the Maharashtra Transport Department said that the car density was at 430 cars per kilometre in 2016, and the increase to 510 has taken the number of private registered cars to 10.2 lakh. That's roughly 28% of the total car population in Mumbai.
A study by the Mumbai Environmental Social Network shows that 49% of all road space is occupied by private vehicles. They say this is the biggest reason for traffic congestion. Also this has resulted in average speeds on the Western Express Highway dropping to 10kmph during peak hours.
RTO officials stated that maximum car registrations were in the Western suburbs, followed by the island-city, and then the Eastern suburbs. They also mentioned that suburbs like Powai and Chembur had the maximum registration for high end cars, with almost every household holding at least one registered car. In addition, the Eastern Freeway was the preferred route to take from Chembur to South-Bombay because it reduces travel time by over half an hour.
The RTO also said that the Colaba-Cuffe Parade belt has a huge vehicle population (including commercial vehicles) when compared to Malabar Hill or the Nepean Sea Road-Peddar Road belt. Also, Andheri and Goregaon have residential and commercial hubs where the number of vehicles have increased over the years. Kandivali, Bandra, and Borivali are the next "big three" with most households buying bigger cars. Bigger cars means more idle road space.
Transport experts are worried by the rise in the number of private cars. They feel the increase will hamper the growth of public transport. They also feel that the increase in the number of private vehicles leads to parking problems. "There is an urgent need to set up a parking authority to implement the new parking policy, and impose congestion tax in the business hubs," said A.V.Shenoy of the Mumbai Transport Forum. "The arterial roads should be kept free of any parking (on both sides of the road) during peak hours. It will free up road space and allow movement of 50% more vehicles, especially buses," he added.
Transport Commissioners have been suggesting ways to control the growth of car population in Mumbai. They dissuade locals from driving personal vehicles. Another official said the government is focused on setting up several Metro Corridors. This will easy traffic conditions and ensure smoother commuting and encourage mass public transport.
Pune is the next vehicle-populous city, followed by Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore.
What We Think Of Mumbai's Traffic Woes
Maybe the government should impose a "one family-one car" rule and dole out tax benefits for every additional car that a family can afford. This might bring people closer to using public transport. Also, what about the increase in the number of cars because of Ola and Uber? Why shouldn't pay more tax?