I am a regular user of Bangalore Metro now. It feels like a wonder when you travel in it at a nice speed and you watch the traffic on the roads below it is struggling to move an inch. Ask any Metro passenger, they would appreciate its reliability and convenience. Especially the women passengers, Metro has made life little easier for them. Why the traffic in Bangalore has worsened despite Metro running at full capacity carrying thousands of passengers every hour? I see following reasons for it.
Metro construction: The extension line construction of Metro (at Whitefield, Mysore road etc.) has really taken a toll. New bottlenecks are created and the average speed has come down drastically. A travel between KR Puram and Whitefield, though it is just 8 km’s, takes past one hour to two hours as Metro construction has occupied half of the road width. Everyone agrees the pace of construction is relatively fast but yet it will take good time before the civil works are complete and the lanes are freed up.
Increasing population: More people are moving into the town. Bangalore’s majority population has always been migrants. Not just from other parts of Karnataka and neighboring states but people originating from all parts of India are making Bangalore their new home. Probably Bangalore ranks highest among all towns of India in the number of new jobs being created (while rest of India seems to be under performing in job creation). Those new jobs mean new workforce moving in with their families. It also creates the increased need for supporting services like Schools, Hospitals, and Banks etc. George Soros had called this a self-reinforcing phenomenon, growth creating new growth opportunities. It is good to see Bangalore representing whole of India. But the bad part is all these new people are welcomed by the same old roads of it.
Picked up construction: A secondary impact of the new migrating population is increased demand for housing, office space, and commercial real estate. So the construction activity has picked up and much of construction materials have to come outside of Bangalore into it. All those trucks and the material moving vehicles of all sizes rush in and out Bangalore for brisk business.
Elections: Elections are nearby. National leaders of political parties are frequently visiting Bangalore and the local leaders have become actively engaged too. They roam around a lot along with their party workers. And there are political rally of many kinds being conducted bringing in lots of floating population. They all hit the clogged roads of Bangalore.
Call it a booming economy or a under developed infrastructure, Bangalore’s traffic finds new reasons to worsen with time. The pace of economic growth is not matched with the infrastructure addition. Though Metro is helping, it seems inadequate. Bangalore's seamless growth has its disadvantages. It is not just commute time or air quality, a drought year can bring its citizens a serious trouble over water.
To make it sustainable, industries based in Bangalore need to create jobs in other towns and voluntarily move their offices out of Bangalore. That would happen anyway but to make it early it needs encouragement from Govt. in the form of providing the infra needed for such a move. It seems like Chicken first or Egg first problem for now. Who would make the first move? I think it is the industry and the tipping point for that would be when the costs (real estate, transportation costs and wages) begin to hurt their profitability. May be five years from now, we would be in the middle of that problem. Until then, we need to learn to cope with the traffic or find alternatives to cut our commute time. Yes, find a house near to work location (or find a job near to your house) or go in shifts avoiding the peak hour, do whatever works for you (I have changed my job).
Save yourself from spending all evenings on road. Life is calling, where are you? Don't say you are struck in traffic.