We definitely have a big list for which Hyderabad is great for. At the same time, Hyderabad Traffic is something which can’t be ignored when talking about not-so-great things. If I had any/ all the control to regulate and improve the Hyderabad traffic situation, I would recommend the following. These are the top 10 initiatives I think can seriously change the face of Hyderabad traffic monster. You can of course beg to disagree/ differ, in the comments. Here is my take on the situation:
- Better roads: Let us give the commuters something good so that they can reciprocate in a similar way. As everyone pays the lifetime vehicle taxes, it is expected to have better road conditions. While Highways around the city are taking better shape, thanks to the long approved implementation of Vajpayee’s idea of world-class Highways and golden quadrilateral (of course a separate toll charge is levied on the respective routes), we need to make internal city roads ditch-free, better pave[mente]d, and safe. This includes better rain water management and corrosion too. Let’s measure our road quality in terms of Six Sigma stats, dpm; just that we call it here ditches per mile instead of defects per million.
- Parking: Provide ample parking space, of course at a price. Once this is taken care, illegal parking on the road sides can be tackled with heavy penalties. I am sure within no time, people will stop occupying roads that are meant for traffic flow. But again, the key is to provide ample space for parking at as many locations as possible. Even the regulations to the business establishments to provide parking for it’s customers has to be implemented. Setting up a shop or a theater on a busy junction with no space for parking has to be strictly opposed. No parking for customers; no business.
- Public transport: Increase the frequency and number of public transport means like city buses and local trains. This is an attempt to make people leave their vehicles at home and make use of risk-free, safer transportation system. If the volume and frequency is increased tremendously, I am sure everyone would appreciate the convenience and cost-effectiveness compared to the self drive and fuel/ maintenance of cars at least, if not the two-wheelers immediately. If I have a bus at hand in every route any time of the day or night, I would definitely reserve my car for long drives and out of the city trips only. Won’t you?
- Car-pooling: This is a secondary idea to promote for people who work in the same office/ area and hail from same place (or, on-the-way) for example. While providing irresistible public transportation will make everyone think twice about using their own vehicles, this can be promoted to use fewer vehicles if unavoidable. Of course, this saves some effort and money for the commuters too, apart from the tremendous contribution to the ‘better traffic management’ effort.
- Awareness/ traffic sense: How much ever hopeless/ fruitless the efforts go, there has to be an optimistic drive about traffic awareness and safety. Woh bhi ”vinamratha” se. There has to be workshops for all the drivers who lose the license because of a set number of violations (law enforcement below); encourage corporates to spend a day every year in regulating traffic (what best can help us identify the pains than being there dying to control it?); reward/ appreciate anyone who has helped drive the sense into public by dedicating time, effort etc.; case studies made public to make people realize the advantages and wear helmets and seat belts; drive the point that few seconds at red light is negligible compared to the lives ahead to live!
- Law enforcement: Awareness is the objective. However, everyone should know the downside of not being able to participate in the game. Any odd stubborn traffic rule violators should be dealt with very strictly. If monetary penalty is not part of the picture, it’s my assumption that the enforcement will be much more effective. And if the (N)SSN or equivalent can be rolled out (I think it’s already in place, but just on papers), tracking individual’s driver’s license information can be fool-proofed. Allot points like other countries do and after certain limit, the license should be seized. If someone is caught violating any rules, just don’t let the person go for 12-24 hours. Period.
- Promote health and best practices: This is easier said than done, however, an idea never-the-less. An indirect way of promoting this is taking care of the other points mentioned in this article; make commuters think twice about using their vehicle with awesome public transportation, earmark space for parking and put a price for that, make better pavements for walking etc.. An impression should be planted that makes each one take a walk (or perhaps pedal?) to the nearby drug store/ supermarket than preferring a vehicle.
- Traffic police corruption: This will be the most toughest part to tackle. It’s not uncommon that many get away with violations by just bribing the traffic police as low as Rs. 20! and this has to stop. It’s difficult to make a system work if the law enforcers themselves show paths for get-away. I would start with looking after the traffic cops first; pay them well, look for better qualified man power, given the polluted work environment all day and all night- provide health facilities and insurance for the cops and their families. There has to be greener things to look at for being a traffic cop and stop them think about bribes. AND, once this is addressed, screw the ones who give in to bribes so bad that the first dozen should be the only violations in the record. These examples should make everyone else refrain from anything close to corruption. We can do the same point system that works for license cancellation that eventually affects the employment itself.
- Information center: There has to be a place for easy access for all the information anyone is looking out for. Similarly, it has to be very easy to contact any authorities for assistance. Advertise online locations, mobile numbers, normal SMS options (not the premium charged mailboxes) for easy access. I would love an online complaint location as well; last month an aunty (AP 9 BC 1000 white Santro) hit my car and shrugged as if that’s what she does day in and day out. I need an easy way to complaint against her for the hit-and-run scenario/ reckless driving. We have to prove that sighting a traffic cop anytime is a relief and welcome to get help and not troublesome!
- Heavy vehicles: We need complete by-pass roads for all heavy vehicles. This already is in place for most part of the city but is not very effective. Heavy vehicles should not be allowed through the city at any time of the day or night (unless they are destined to Hyderabad for any business purposes, which is unavoidable as of now but surely something can be thought about this too). The existing ring road or the outer ring road (hope somebody is still working on that one) should play a major role in diverting heavy traffic. Once industrial areas/ suburbs of Hyderabad are now part and heart of the city, and we have to expand the territory and change the limits too.
Bonus: Restructure RTA: It’s time we upgrade the RTA completely in a corporate style. While bits and pieces have already been restructured, automated, centralized and computerized, more than half the staff that work there hardly can use the systems. It is not considered success until anyone can walk in to the RTA office and have a vehicle registered or a license obtained within a couple of hours maximum, and with no mediator ‘consultants’ to get the job done. If the manual RTA staff involvement can be minimized, it’s not just a success, it’s a hit!
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!