I’ll start with a blunt statement. Governments/State Departments around the world have no incentive in reducing traffic. An explosive statement like that needs to be backed with strong logic. Do I have one? Let me explain. First let’s examine the reasons for Traffic Congestion
- Lack of infrastructure which means lack sufficiently motorable, well maintained and wide roads
- Too many vehicles on the road at the same time, including public, private and pooled transport
- Poor Civic Sense, frequent lane changing, scant respect for rules, road rage
- Sufficient Parking space
- Less reliance on Public Transport
Now let’s look at what benefits the Authorities:
- Car/vehicle sales are a measure of robustness of the economy and all effort is made for increasing the volume
- More sale of vehicles means greater tax revenue both in terms of sales tax or road tax
- More the traffic, lower the mileage given by a vehicle
- Lower the mileage of a vehicle more the consumption of fuel which are all sold by State owned companies and tax revenue as per the tax collected on each liter of fuel sold
- More the traffic more the chances of traffic rule violation and hence greater revenue for Traffic Police
Yet for ordinary citizens like us, traffic is a huge problem. Why do I say so? It’s because traffic increases travel time this increases stress levels and lowers productivity. There is a higher chance of road rage and accidents. More traffic leads to low mileage obtained from the vehicle thus increasing expenditure on fuel and car maintenance. Of course, traffic leads to loss of productive hours, impacts mental health and certainly impacts personal relationships.
Yet there is a subjectivity to the entire situation. This I say because, it’s foolish to imagine roads without any traffic at all! Then the question is ‘how much traffic’ is acceptable? What average vehicular speed would be considered as optimal, comfortable, plausible and acceptable? Is there a standard vehicle vs motor-able road ratio?
What are the possible solutions? All the large-scale solutions involve an expenditure by the authorities/state which include Improving infrastructure, improving Public Transport and stricter enforcement of rules. Albeit the growth of vehicles on the road could far outpace improvements in any of these factors. While authorities wake-up and start attaching value to loss of productive hours due to traffic or human life and ‘quality of life’. We are left to ourselves to figure out what works for us as an individual or as a community and follow those practices for peace of mind and happiness.