Monday, November 29, 1999

Mumbai at brake-point

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Mumbai, May 17 -- Ever-increasing traffic snarls and long durations taken to travel even small distances are among Mumbaiites' major concerns. In a survey of 10,374 Mumbaiites conducted by Hindustan Times and Ipsos Indica Research, traffic emerged as one of the biggest concerns. The survey was part of Hindustan Times' Mumbai First initiative. Among those who listed traffic as one of their top two concerns, 62 per cent said the problem has worsened, while only 29 per cent said the situation is better. Nine per cent said there has been no change. The 10,374 respondents were asked to pick their top two concerns. They were then divided into several smaller groups based on these concerns. Typically, every respondent was part of two smaller groups, each of which corresponded to one concern. Each of these groups was then asked detailed questions about their respective concerns. Traffic was one of the top two concerns for 1,524 respondents. More than 17 lakh vehicles ply on Mumbai's roads every day. The traffic police have made several arrangements to ensure smooth flow of traffic; over 1,000 policemen have been posted on city roads. However, despite raising manpower and putting up glow signs to aid motorists, there is little improvement. Experts blamed the traffic problem on the lack of planning. "What can the Traffic Department do if 250 new cars are added to our roads every day? The situation will worsen further," said Nitin Dossa, executive chairman of the Western India Automobile Association. "There are more than 75,000 cars travelling towards the airport alone every day; the authorities cannot do anything to improve the situation." Dossa said the only solution was for authorities to think about developing alternative means of transport, such as waterways, underground metros and extending the Bandra-Worli Sealink till Nariman Point."During peak hours, I cannot even think of travelling by car. I take the train instead. It's crowded, but it gets me to my destination on time," said Sneha Sabnis (25), a copywriter with an advertising agency.

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