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Bangalore urged to adopt ‘congestion pricing’

Bangalore, like many other Indian cities, has long been known for horrendous traffic jams. New staggered charges could alleviate some of the road burden, but the plan remains politically complicated. (Ramon Casha/Flickr/cc)

During rush hour in Bangalore, streets resemble parking lots as traffic slows to a crawl or stops altogether. Commutes that required a half-hour four years ago take nearly an hour today. Carlin Carr, Bangalore community manager for, writes that “congestion pricing” — a concept pioneered by Singapore — could help alleviate the problem.

Singapore introduced its fee structure in 1975. Drivers pay tolls to enter central areas, with the rates highest when traffic is heavy. The tolls have spurred many drivers to switch to buses, subways and carpools. “The lesson for Indian cities such as Bangalore is that even with an increase in [gross domestic product] and urban populations, car growth doesn’t have to follow,” she writes.

Bangalore’s Directorate of Urban Land Transport proposed such pricing in 2011 but the idea was never implemented, the article says. Despite the upsides, Carr laments that congestion charges are often “politically unpopular.” That explains why several Indian cities have failed to move beyond the discussion stage. Propelled by a booming technology sector, traffic in Bangalore is projected to worsen, with speeds averaging just 10 kms per hour (6 miles per hour) by 2030.


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