10 January 2017 15:24:21 IST

Reading the signals right

The public transport network must be expanded and the frequency of buses or metro trains increased

Better public transport, incentives and smart signalling can be alternatives to a steel flyover

Bengaluru is one of the most preferred places in India, especially for students pursuing higher studies and looking for better career prospects. As the city is always flooded with a floating population, it is never free from traffic congestion.

To ease the congestion on the roads and enhance connectivity, especially on the route between Bengaluru International Airport and the city centre, the Karnataka State government, in consultation with the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), came out with a plan to construct a steel flyover. The proposal was met with protests from different sections of society for varied reasons. The BDA could not go ahead with the project because of the court’s four-week interim injunction on environmental grounds.

Viable alternatives

Against this backdrop, the Karnataka government and the BDA began to seek solutions to the issue. The major problems associated with this project are environmental.

In the economics sense it is associated with negative externalities (social costs). Economic theory suggests that the solution for negative externality lies in the hands of the government in the form of taxes, subsidies and permits. Since it is not possible to go in for road widening, and as the construction of flyovers is time-consuming, alternative solutions can be offered in this context.

These include: SMART Signal (Systematic Monitoring of Arterial Road Traffic Signals), improving public transport in terms of frequency of buses or metro trains, expanding the modes of public transport, announcing incentives for people who use public transport and extending the metro rail project.

Awareness campaigns

It must also include enforcement of road rules, such as maintaining strict lane discipline, aside from encouraging car-pooling, imposing a penalty if there is a single person travelling in a car, and effective implementation of pollution checks in automobiles.

This apart, there should be a sustained campaign to convey information and create awareness among the people about the importance of air quality in the city and its impact on health and well-being.