Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Traffic Congestion Charge in Mumbai?

There are plans to implement a traffic congestion charge in Mumbai, similar to the one used in London. I have a few questions.

1) Why is a GPS system needed for toll collection? I would assume a simple card reader such as EZ Pass or Toll Tag will be sufficient for such purposes.

2) After the fiasco with CAS, how will the government ensure that a similar shortage of the electronic devices will not occur?

3) How will authorities ensure that the readers are protected from vandals?

4) Given the inefficient system in place for collections in India, with legal recourse not a practical option, how will the authorities ensure that fines are collected in a timely manner? Or, for that matter, that fines are collected at all? Without resorting to hired goondas.

5) What is the financial cost for installing such a system? Does the government believe that there are enough people who will pay the fine to keep the system running on its own? Or does it believe that reduced congestion itself is enough to underwrite the system?

6) If the system is installed as a way of collecting toll for travelling on the most congested roads, what is the guarantee it is not merely shifting the congestion to other roads? After all, the existing public transport in Mumbai is not good enough for everyone to stop using their cars.

7) On a related note, does this mean that the government will collect toll on every major road in Mumbai?

8) Have the authorities analyzed the expected impact of different systems before deciding on the congestion charge? For example, a charge based on the colour of the vehicle and day of the week might be as effective in reducing congestion as the congestion charge, with the added benefit of low investment costs. (I really don't know if the colour charge can be as effective, but the question needs to be answered.)

A lot of this might sound like nit-picking, and maybe it is too. But there are always concerns about directly using ideas that work in the western nations without considering their effectiveness in Indian conditions. And governments in India could never be accused of thinking through the issues. Now that I have done my job in raising some questions, someone go through the job of finding out the answers, assuming they exist.

1 comment:

http://driving-india.blogspot.com said...

Other things may help too, especially disciplined driving -

Almost 10% of the global road traffic accidents occur in India. Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of the indisciplined driving on Indian roads. Unfortunately in since 60 years since independence the authorities have failed to publish a National Highway code. Licences are given to anyone who can demonstrate an ability to use the clutch-accelerator, consequently the motoer driving schools teach just that and no more. Concepts such as - blindspots, principle of MSM, the tyre & tarmac rule, 2 second gap and most improtantly giving way are not known to the average Indian driver.

This site http://driving-india.blogspot.com/ has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training to all Indian road users. It is by far the most comprehensive website providing training in defensive driving. Learning simple road habits can make our roads safe and also free up congestion caused by traffic chaos.

At present 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. The video are unique in that the footage is real life action from streets of London. We have copied the Western habits: Replaced the dhoti with denim, high rise buildings for Indian cottages, burgers and coke instead of Indian breads and perhaps sugarcane juice. Surely we can copy the Western ways of travelling too.

To watch the videos, interested readers may visit: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

The videos cover the following topics:

Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
Video 7: Merging with the Main road
Video 8: Leaving The Main Road
Video 9: Never Cut Corners
Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule
Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
Video 14: Low beam or high beam?
Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easy
Video 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a car
Video 17: Dealing with in-car condensation

Many thanks