March 17, 2007

Flyovers no solution to traffic woes: Expert

Talking to the Statesman, executive director, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, Dr. Walter Hook said that elevated roads are not the solution to increasing traffic congestion in urban areas.

“By constructing flyovers, traffic congestion is being shifted from one place to another place.  Started in the 50’s and 60’s in the 20th century in America, elevated roads are now being deconstructed and segregated vehicular lanes are being made,” said Dr. Hook.

The pollution in the vicinity of these flyovers increases and the land value falls.  People living in these areas also become vulnerable to various health-related problems.  The visiting faculty of Columbia University, Dr. Walter Hook, who is always keen on developments in the transport sector in Asia countries said that Master Plan Delhi 2021 was an excellent document and if implemented properly will help reduce traffic woes in all respects in the National Capital of India.

“The vision document is excellent.  However, I have found a lot of difference in the policies on paper and the ground realities.  The government will have to ensure that the vision document is properly implemented,” said Dr. Hook.

However, he feels that governments in recent years have become sensitive to the transport sector and due attention is being paid to it.  “Not only in European and American countries, but also here in India and other Asian nations, I have seen a lot of change in policies in the last five years,” said Dr. Hook.  Bus Rapid Transit systems, which are being developed in several parts of the world including Delhi, may end the traffic problems of urban areas.

“BRT not only eases traffic, but reduces the accidents as it has separate lanes for pedestrians, buses, and other motorists.  However, the solution does not lie in constructing BRT corridors only.  If the bus operation is poor, it may fail,” said Dr. Hook, adding that bus operation is the most important aspect in the BRT system and use of ITS and integration with other modes of transport are also of vital importance.

When asked about the opposition to the BRT system being received in Delhi, Dr. Hook said, “Some environmentalists have taken the wrong assessment of the project.  It is an environmentally friendly project.  In the long term, it will prove useful.  Initially, we may have to cut some trees, but that can be compensated with planting trees somewhere else.”

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