There was a recent newspaper report lamenting about abysmally low per capita vehicle penetration at 12 per 1000 people as compared to 765 for US, 426 for UK, 124 for Russia and even Brazil at 81. Car-makers are grinning the huge opportunity of untapped vehicle market.
With our cities already choking with traffic even with this abysmally low vehicle penetration I shudder to think how clogged our roads would be even with Brazil like penetration of 81 per 1000, a nearly seven fold increase from the current levels. Can you imagine? It is not as if there is huge potential available for road expansion as any such expansion will necessarily displace the livelihood of the millions. Cities practically have no space for pedestrians as roads are filled to the brim with vehicles virtually till the doorstep of houses and shops at the edge.
Is it really practicable and prudent to encourage automobile expansion while the automatic choice should be expansion of public transport or mass transport. It is for the government to take lead and innovate initiatives in this segment to discourage private transport and encourage its public counterpart with a scheme of incentives and dis-incentives. For example, levying a road clog cess on larger private vehicles like car, van, etc annually and utilise the revenue to improve the quality of roads and streamline bus fleet. Further, the government should create a complementary infrastructure of road and rail traffic system in all the major cities on a war-footing.
I for one staunchly desisted from using private transport for the past six years despite struggling in crowded buses and interminable waits at bus stops. But I could take it no longer as public transport showed no signs of improvement. Hence I bit the forbidden fruit of my private Bike some 5 months back. If a die-hard public transport fan like me choose to breach the Laxman rekha, you can forgive the common man for choosing to put a premium on his comfort and time at the cost of larger good.
O all ye netas and IASes straddling the power corridors!! When will you wake up and look at things from a futuristic scenario?? Just think about how your off springs will suffer from the overflowing traffic 10,15 years hence... Can't you take it up at least for their sake?