Why Do City Dwellers Prefer Private Vehicle Over Public Transport?
At a time when pollution levels are on the rise across major cities in the country, the need to switch from private cars and bikes to shared vehicles, including public transport, is greater than before. However, the scenario in the financial capital Mumbai is in contrast to this. According to a report launched by the Mumbai Environmental Social Network (MESN), while private cars and bikes are taking up 77 per cent of the road space in Mumbai when compared to 59 per cent share two decades ago, the share of buses has come down from 6.2 per cent to 2.2 per cent. While among private vehicles, cars occupy 49 per cent, two-wheelers take up 28 per cent of road space. On the other hand, public transport, including taxis, autos and buses, occupy 15 per cent of the city’s roads.
Rise in congestion
According to the report, in two decades, the number of two-wheelers have increased by 385 per cent and private cars by 340 per cent, causing an increase in traffic congestion on roads bringing down the average speed on two express highways to 10 kilometres per hour during peak time.
Mumbai has over 20 lakh two-wheelers and over 10 lakh private cars, however, the length of the roads in the city has remained stagnant at 2,000 km. This shows that on a given route, more private vehicles now occupy the road bringing down the speed and increasing the time spent on road by citizens.
According to the MESN report, if the quantum of congestion has to be brought down in the city, the number of cars will have to go down by 20 per cent while 15 per cent of the two-wheelers will have to stop running on Mumbai roads.
Need to strengthen public transport
The report suggests that to bring down the congestion by reducing the number of private vehicles on road, public transport has to be strengthened, too. Especially in the case of Mumbai where although local buses and Metro are offering smooth transport, the BEST bus services need an upgrade. For instance, having air-conditioned buses on the road is the need of the hour. Moreover, the road demarcation has to be followed to provide ample space for public transport to move along and be smooth for travellers. For instance, having bus lanes on road would allow buses to move around the city without being stuck in a traffic jam, ensuring the riders get to their destination on time and are frequently available.