The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB)’s proposal to ban autos in the Central Business District (CBD) is good thinking and a much needed move for the future. But it can work only if the board and the transport department provide a comprehensively planned and integrated public transportation system in the CBD.
Merely a ban on autos in these central localities will not solve the city’s traffic troubles. Banning autos without making the CBD a pedestrian-zone or banning cars as well will send a message that those without vehicles or cars are not allowed in the area.
The transport department should instead provide peripheral parking both for autos and cars or introduce restricted time zones for private cars in the CBD. This will ensure improved movement of vehicles and also provide more pedestrian comfort. A classic example of vehicle-pedestrian conflict in Bengaluru is Commercial Street, which is narrow, potholed and has no footpaths. When the drains overflow here during rain the chaos worsens and people and private cars compete for space on the street.
If the government is planning an urban renewal project for Bengaluru it needs to fully solve the problem and not just take half measures like banning autos in the CBD. If pedestrian movement is increased and public transportation is improved, we could see less traffic in these parts. In cities like Perth, the Australian government has banned private vehicle movement and provides a free bus shuttle service in all the shopping zones.
Similarly if our Metro Rail is better connected to the bus service, people will be able to walk around in the CBD without having to worry about traffic. This requires micro level planning and integrated public transportation.
While the Namma Metro service is excellent, the frequency of its trains needs to be increased. And once it is connected to all parts of the city, it could provide a solution to the traffic congestion....