It has been two years since I wrote this on the sorry state of commuters and residents along the Outer-Ring-Road. Fast forward to the present, nothing much has changed. It might in fact have gotten worse as more and more bottlenecks have sprung up. In these two years, more people have added their own cars to the roads, more buildings have come up and more companies have moved in to the stretch between Sarjapura Road and Doddanakundi. Ecospace, a word that now mainly conjures up images of traffic jams when heard at random, has expanded further inland and added more buildings that house more employees. More office space is coming up in whatever space is left between all those campuses that house JP Morgan, Oracle etc and the frothing, burning, exploding, but ultimately shrinking, Bellandur Lake.
The traffic pileups now amount to multiple ones:
- Silk Board (of course, the grand-daddy of all these): More people probably pass through this junction per day, than those who passed through the Silk Route per century.
- Iblur which used to be a once-in-a-while flare-up is more or less consistent now, and is crying for recognition as a new traffic jam in its own right.
- Ecospace: “Ah those pedestrians, why do they have to cross the road to get to the other side?! Why don’t they build a pedestrian overpass here?” Well, let’s face it – it hasn’t happened in all these years, it’s very well not going to happen in the future either.
- JP Morgan: Well, where there’s a signal, there’s a traffic jam. Again, “those pedestrians yaar!”
- Marathahalli Innovative Multiplex– Well, innovative traffic solutions mean buses and lorries have to take a U-turn to turn right to Airport road here.
- Marathahalli Kalamandir: The corresponding U-turn for those going to Whitefield – a piece of art by itself.
- EMC2: Einstein’s elegant equation is also a major traffic bottleneck which takes 15 to 30 minutes to cross depending on your luck.
- Tin Factory: Pretty much the Newton to Einstein, a real factory that doesn’t exist anymore. But it is a major bottleneck that you need to pass to get to EMC2, or to Whitefield. BTP keep claiming that they have solved it. Except that instead of spending 20 minutes there, you spend 10 minutes between Tin Factory and KR Puram, and another 10 minutes before that to get to Tin Factory from Beniganahalli or Kalyan Nagar.
- In between all this, there is Old Airport Road, and its own ecosystem of traffic jams culminating in the U-turn for those coming from Whitefield to take right towards KR Puram.
Together, the bottlenecks of Iblur, Marathahalli and KR Puram guard the companies of ORR like the three-headed dog Cerberus guarding the netherworlds of Hades. No security expert could have designed a better system by sitting and thinking this through.
Thankfully, the police have now realised that the ‘situation is grim’ after visiting the areas.
Solutions are now being sought from citizens. Of course, this can be perceived as a good way to involve citizens in planning and solving their commutes. You could also say that BTP and their ‘traffic consultants’ are clueless about what to do. I am hoping it’s the former, but it’s hard not to think it’s the latter, going by past history.
There is of, course, the question of what the future holds. It would be nice to be able to think of a happy ending, where the police solve the issue and people get to drive their cars to work and back home, and spend more time with their respective spouses, children and dogs in their ‘lakefront ultra-luxury apartments in the heart of greenery’.
Sadly – brace yourself – the situation is going to continue to look grim. In fact it might be looking a lot grimmer than you can think.
- All these buildings that are coming up all over the ORR will be complete and more companies will move in from within the city. Let’s face it, rents in the CBD are crazy high. Not that they aren’t much lower in the ORR, but more people can be accommodated in the same rent, apparently.
- Bangalore has been sitting pretty at No. 2 in the number of cars owned, after Delhi. More people will continue to buy cars. Especially in the East and South. (Source: The Hindu)
- Those flyovers at Devarabeesanahalli and Kadubeesanahalli aren’t going to go away soon. With every passing day, with every increase in traffic, these twin flyovers more and more resemble the monumental flaws that they are.
- There might be a plan to build an underpass near EMC2. Whether this will give traffic the quantum leap to the other side or not needs to be seen, but only after three to five years of struggling through dust and traffic.
- The Metro Phase II is going to start.
- For those commuting via Old Madras Road, the extension from Byappanahalli to Whitefield will choke OMR till KR Puram. Not that it isn’t choked already, but any road that can choke, can choke more, as those who live in Whitefield can tell you. Those from the West thinking of taking the Metro, you still have to deal with Tin Factory. Not much change considering that that was the first bottleneck even by road.
- The Southern side will see an extension from RV Road till Silk Board and then onward to Electronic City. The good news is that they are planning an elevated road along the same pillars as the Metro from Jayadeva to Silk Board (Please don’t laugh). This might improve things half a decade or more later, if the traffic volume hasn’t exceeded what they’re currently planning for.
- The underground section from Gottigere to Nagawara is also going to start. This might mean less pain, except at points where there will be underground stations. So if you were thinking Dairy Circle from Jayadeva, and then through Koramangala, you might be a bit disappointed. If you are commuting from Bannerghatta road, you might be more than a bit disappointed.
There are no easy solutions. In fact there are no permanent solutions, as long as the relentless onslaught of private cars is going to continue. ORR will live and die by Single Occupancy Cars. Who’s listening though?
Addendum (as on August 26th 2015)
After all those deliberations, they’ve come to the conclusion that reducing vehicle density is the way to go.
Now to hope people actually start thinking about the consequences of their choices. As one of the commenters below suggested, might be worth having tech parks also start charging for parking.