Alternative Public Transport in India – an Introspection

As a child, I hardly played with dolls or soft-toys; they don’t impress me even now. Rather I was always fascinated with motors, particularly cars. Later it became my hobby to collect such images (including jeeps, fighter-crafts, yachts and ships) and often I used to list the cars and jeeps that I would own some day…… 🙂

But with the ever increasing numbers (of both human-beings and vehicles) and pollution, at the core of my heart, I now hesitate to own a car or use it UNLESS the distance to be travelled is
– long or
– wearisome or
– amidst a rough weather or
– during an emergency or
– through deserted areas or
– made at nightfall or
– taken by parents-with-kids, the ill and the elderly.

Otherwise on an average course, like many I too believe that Bicycles, Trams and Tongas (also solar-powered vehicles) can be a great reliever of our city traffic woes ! These also drastically reduce instances of accidents !!! Moreover, while Bicycling is a good exercise, Trams and Tongas cast a very aesthetic and classic look. Further, both children and adults learn to appreciate the service of horses pulling a Tonga (or of camels pulling certain type of Carts), thus ultimately becoming compassionate towards these creatures.

Consider India’s IT-hub, Bangalore. The new Metro Rail services here are still like a joy-ride; even after so many years of planning and construction activities, it is limited to few spots only. The rate of completion is extremely slow compared to the growth of the city in terms of extension of areas, increase in commercial centres and population. Moreover, the city is blemished with half-laid flyovers, subways, dug soil, pot-holes, etc., which only add to further inconveniences of the citizens, particularly in the rainy season.

Moreover, presently only a few spots are merely planned (i.e. yet to be implemented) for dedicated Bicycle lanes and zones. These lanes must be at a standard height and evenly laid. Then remains the much arduous task of designing, building and maintaining efficient parking areas and abating public nuisance !! The city authorities have also reserved a good future proposal of charging vacant seats in private vehicles plying on the road to check increase in number of cars.

If Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi can progress well in enhancing public transport, then why cannot Bangalore or other cities ? Where are the loop-holes ?

A recent international study shows Kolkata to be the most progressive city in India, when it comes to public transport. Apart from the usual Trains, it has a wonderful Metro Rail service. The intermediate public transport system comprises of variety of Buses, age-old Trams, Taxis, Auto-rickshaws and Rickshaws.

I think collaborations with Japan, Singapore and some European countries can help us a lot in this regard; they already have excellent public transport systems in place along with proper usage of smart-cards.

Mushkeel Hai Par Namoomkeen Nahi‘ (difficult but not impossible) – especially when one seriously thinks about decreasing or preventing current levels of pollution, and conserving the atmosphere, land as well as other natural resources for our future folks, and implementing stricter law and order to literally pave a smooth way ! Whether directly or indirectly, does not all these take care of several big and significant social parameters ?

Hence, it is famously said that a progressive or developed nation is one where citizens are able to mostly use a good public transport system. From my personal observation during a three-month stay in an European country, I found its citizens to travel to work on all the days of the week by availing the public transport system. Even the super-rich drove their Lamborghinis only on weekends or holidays, or on special occasions. Inspiring, indeed !

Back at home, we have a long way to go. The obstacles are all not because of the huge population or inadequate infrastructure or financial deficiencies but primarily, we have to collectively change our attitude in this regard. Elucidating this point, it simply means that if my neighbour buys a car today then I should not fall into a rat-race of owning one similar or of higher price; rather I must explore ways or continue to use the public transport system best available to me and also encourage others in the society to do so by citing the above mentioned reasons. Likewise, I must actively participate in promoting or developing such a transport system that is supported by the administration of the city or town I reside. In short, my gratefulness towards Mother Earth and concern for the future generations must be carefully set on a much higher level than my vanity to flaunt my riches; I must remember ‘the dust from where I sprang’.

Wonder if we can get to see this picture in most Indian cities in our lifetime…!

Aamjunta – what do you say?

10 Responses

  1. Quite thought provoking one. Bangalore is actually killed silently by volvos and bikes. You will be surprised to know that on an average 100 + cars are being added daily to Bangalore. Very challenging.

  2. Poor transport infrastructure in India, be that in Bangalore or any other part of India. Bumpy roads and no roads are common for Indians, more in MP, UP and Bihar. Some one comes and makes the road, and one day after some other person comes and dig the road – to lay water pipe and telephone pipe; no patch-up after words. This is the life.

    In the city like Bangalore, both BJP as well as Congress Govt are responsible for the poor infrastructure. No one bothers for us, they just think of their own bank balance and …

  3. Agree with Jacom. The poor infrastructure is mainly due to our lack of political will and chalta hai attitude. Long way to go for India to become the so called developed nation.

  4. Good.

    1. The collective responsibility is more appealing. True, we all are responsible to a large extent for the mess. I can afford a car and so I will. Even, the banks are wiling to give loans for this. So getting a car these days is easy.

    2. What about jealously and the rat race? I agree with you aamjunta! This is also a big issue in India. The consequence of it is very bad.

  5. Public transport? Who cares? VIPs dont go, so they do not bother. Middle class like us always worry about other’s success! Just jealous and ends in rat-race. Life is not that cool as thought.

    Another good article.

  6. Well articulated post.
    ++ Lack of coordination of our various government agencies sometimes add more problems. To this people in India throw their kachraas…. as the dumping yard. Cleanness starts at our homes by throwing kachraas to the road:(

  7. Bangalore is an adopted city of every one and no one wants to take the responsibility. No water, no road and no discipline are just the beauty of the city. Even then, mera Bharat mahan and jai-ho.

  8. Well-thought article !

    here is a link to assess our economic governance in the last 10 years; w.r.t. to the context, please note the facts and figures on Fuel subsidies and expenditure on Transport !!

  9. This post become more relevant in the light of the recent union budget – a tax on 2/4 wheelers is reduced which will end up with more and more cars and bikes in the road.

    In my opinion government should provide an effective alternative public transport system such that the use of 2/3/4 wheelers can be reduced. And we… we should also think twice before tempting to buy a new car or bike; should go only if it is necessary.

    Keep writing aamjunta!

  10. here’s a very good insight into how Paris has just restricted car and motorcycle use after the city’s pollution reached alarming levels –

    Wish we could do something like this in India !!

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