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Old 1st January 2012, 23:54   #1
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Default Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Hello folks,

There has been some OT discussions on my personal ownership thread so decided to start this topic. I have been driving in this city for over 10 years now and frankly I have never found such utterly unruly road users anywhere in India. Sure most Indian cities have its traffic in pretty bad shape but to me having been in so many cities in India and the world I find Kolkata really takes the cake in road madness.

Its not that there are not enough roads in Kolkata, specially when you compare the volume of traffic @ peak hour which is not much compared to the other metros in India. But most of the roads have been encroached upon by a myriad of professions and reasons. Add to that the last 34 years of rule or misrule of the Left Front which kind of promoted anything or any group which could form a union of their own. Hence we have bus unions, taxi unions, auto rickshaw unions, rickshaw unions, hawkers union, beggars union, parking attendants union, the list is endless. Hell we even have a union for the cops . What the cops go on strike when the crime rate increases and there are too many criminals?

Now add to that the political hues for each type of union and then keeping track of which union is striking for what is a divine challenge. All these unions descend upon the roads of Kolkata to cause havoc. Here are the salient features.

Turn indicators, what? Basically I have heard some very wild reasons for not using one, the best being a taxi driver claiming that using the turn indicator will make it defunct . Even if you use your turn indicator there will be utter idiots who will never register the significance. I remember once I was driving my Zen and taking a right turn with my indicator on, but two chimps on a bike happily try to overtake me from the right even though I have been indicating for eternity. They come and bang me on my right door, the right ORVM and my right hand resting on the window.
Lane driving, HAHAHA. Enough said.
Slowest vehicle use the fastest lane - This is something very unique I have seen only in Kolkata. No matter where the slowest vehicle wants to go or its type, it will intentionally occupy the fastest lane ensuring a build up of vehicles behind it. No amount of indicating (using dipper), honking, shouting will make this moron move from that lane. Basically that moron probably has to take a right turn after 10 kms and that moron is ensuring it can be on the right lane for the turn.
Biggest vehicle has might of way - Guess this is somewhat true for all cities and not unique to Kolkata. The main culprits being the buses. The exception being auto rickshaw drivers who also just drive like chimps at a New Year Party.
ZERO adherence to any traffic rule - Actually there is not even a conscious attempt by anybody to adhere to any traffic rule. Both private and commercial vehicles are equally guilty. Commercial vehicles are actually bolder because they are hardly ever fined by the cops who probably are on strike. Bus stops are places where one will never find a soul. Though cows and dogs could be found sleeping here. Buses will never stop here, never ever. But there are explicit signs where buses are not allowed to stop but magically all buses will stop in these places with all their passengers waiting there causing the most complex traffic snarls.
Ill maintained vehicles - Mostly the Amby taxis are culprits here. They are so ill maintained that they can break down suddenly in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. Add to that their totally unruly behavior and disdain for any traffic rule on the book. Though they do get fined often by cops when they feel like it (actually their union is not strong).

I have often wondered what can be a way to cure this sorry state of affairs in this city. The only conclusion I have reached till now is the army is needed to fix this utter mess out here. The army has special powers and is not answerable for taking corrective action. I know its over the top but it needs exemplary punishment to drive sense into the drivers in Kolkata for respect of traffic rules. Would love to hear your views if you are from Kolkata or your take on the traffic in your city.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 00:08   #2
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Almost all of what you have mentioned does happen down here in chennai too. Not too sure on the unions part, haven't been to Kolkata.
There is another thread along the same lines with woes on road. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...u-spot-em.html (Bad Drivers - How do you spot 'em)
I think you have missed out the cycle rickshaws fitted with motors (Meenbaadi is what is called, not sure of the technical name) Does these things ply the road there?
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Old 2nd January 2012, 08:16   #3
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Turn indicators, what?
Lane driving, HAHAHA.
Slowest vehicle use the fastest lane
Biggest vehicle has might of way
ZERO adherence to any traffic rule
Ill maintained vehicles

The only conclusion I have reached till now is the army is needed to fix this utter mess out here.
Most of the problems listed above are applicable to any city in India and not only calcutta.

I dont agree to the solution suggested . here is why? Army should not be used for anything else other then protecting the country. Governments put them in service at various points like floods and famine but other then that they should be only serving their core purpose and not misused for anything else.

Now for the solution part, in my recent drive through NH7/NH6 for about 1400 Kms one way, my experience has been folks and villages on main highway are well behaved. I have seen trucks giving indicators, letting you pass if you flash and not do something idiotic considering the speeds you do. Where as in comparison the trucks on the lesser used/known NH's and SH's dont behave well, dont use their rear view mirrors etc.

Even for the village residents i saw the ones on main highway realise that doing anything stupid may cost lives, hence are extra careful, where as the ones in lesser known NH/SH are pure idiots. Will jump on the road anytime.

Why such a difference, maybe exposure, and road behaviour education. I think only solution to this problem is build better highways and educate folks on how to drive safe and careful, and i would agree this would be a long term solution then a quick fix.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 09:28   #4
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Hello Samar,
Seems you are really put off by the City of Joy's traffic.

Yes, I do agree that the traffic is a bit unruly and slow. However, if you really want to see people violating traffic rules, Hyderabad & Pune should be your first stop. Bangalore comes very close as well.
I really appreciate the CP rule to have pillions wearing helmets too. (Remember wearing a nice tiny helmet while riding with my dad on his Bajaj Super).

That city is 300+ years old and wasnt planned for driving around in limos, a fact which we Calcuttans have come to terms with. Also need to mention that Cal has one of the best Public Transport connectivity in the country!
We can have more roads in the CBD, but that can happen only by bringing down the heritage buildings!
Yes, the quality of the roads are pathetic. The places where they are tarred too, feels like a roller coaster ride. This is one thing Didi must attend too.
If the traffic of Calcutta irks you, think about Mumbai. They have 4 major arterial roads i.e. SV Road, WE Highway, EE Highway (sorry Mumbaikars, forgot the 4th). A traffic jam in one slowly converts into a traffic jam in all. Cal at least has those nice bylanes. If you know your lanes, you will never get stuck in a traffic jam in the city .

I dont think there's any respect for those tell-tale signals, indicators in any major metro. In Blr, we are constantly wary of the smart biker trying to overtake you from the left. The less we mention about the autowallahs, the better!

The best part about Cal traffic is that the city lacks road rage! While I constantly observe, hand gestures & fingers (pointing & lifted) in Blr, In Cal, the people just honk and move on. That eases off a lot of tension on the road and you are not always on the edge! (I have nudged couple of vehicles in Cal, and I came away without a word being said. Just a frown & a smile ). Am sure, it is not that easy in most of other indian cities (you can get Baseballed in Delhi, windscreen smashed in Bangalore, etc etc..)

Stuff happens. Its up to us to do something about it. Keep following the rules, and soon a few more idiots will surely start following you. (I hope I dont sound too Gandhian)
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Old 2nd January 2012, 10:53   #5
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

I'd tend to disagree with the original question on the Title Line for the thread. I stay in Delhi NCR, and visit Calcutta (sorry, still prefer the old name) about twice a year.

From what I have seen, barring the Taxis, Autos and Mini-buses, Calcutta traffic, is way more civilized than what we have here in the NCR. Bikers, Autos and Buses are the same everywhere. They are an equal menace here as well.

So, what is it that makes Calcutta seem worse?
1. The way the road infrastructure in Calcutta is planned and designed. Most places the Roads are too narrow and enough Fly-overs and Under-passes are not available. This creates a lot more bottlenecks than would otherwise be the case.
2. The pollution levels on the roads. Delhi has done a much better job of containing this menace, and hence made it more pleasant to drive.

Everything else, is just the same.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 11:22   #6
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Was driving back from the airport yesterday and was near nicco park ( a 2 lane road effectively) . I was driving behind a minibus on the right side of the road. The minibus bus suddenly changed lanes to the left and before I could react braked hard and turned a hard right. He basically took a U turn, without signalling, planning or giving thought to the traffic behind.

I screeched to a halt basically, with 2-3 cars behind me doing the same.

That said...traffic management in the suburbs ( i.e. Howrah, Liluah et al ) has gotten much better recently ... after TMC.

Lot more and younger people (of both sexes) managing traffic, and enforcing one ways etc. Its a pleasant change.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 11:25   #7
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by knaveen View Post
Almost all of what you have mentioned does happen down here in chennai too. Not too sure on the unions part, haven't been to Kolkata.
There is another thread along the same lines with woes on road. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...u-spot-em.html (Bad Drivers - How do you spot 'em)
I think you have missed out the cycle rickshaws fitted with motors (Meenbaadi is what is called, not sure of the technical name) Does these things ply the road there?
Actually anything with a wheel is probably allowed to have a might of way in Kolkata . These cycle rickshaws fitted with a kerosene/diesel motors are also seen in the outskirts of Kolkata but not thankfully within the city. Hey, we have enough vehicle types already to deal with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Most of the problems listed above are applicable to any city in India and not only calcutta.

I dont agree to the solution suggested . here is why? Army should not be used for anything else other then protecting the country. Governments put them in service at various points like floods and famine but other then that they should be only serving their core purpose and not misused for anything else.

Now for the solution part, in my recent drive through NH7/NH6 for about 1400 Kms one way, my experience has been folks and villages on main highway are well behaved. I have seen trucks giving indicators, letting you pass if you flash and not do something idiotic considering the speeds you do. Where as in comparison the trucks on the lesser used/known NH's and SH's dont behave well, dont use their rear view mirrors etc.

Even for the village residents i saw the ones on main highway realise that doing anything stupid may cost lives, hence are extra careful, where as the ones in lesser known NH/SH are pure idiots. Will jump on the road anytime.

Why such a difference, maybe exposure, and road behaviour education. I think only solution to this problem is build better highways and educate folks on how to drive safe and careful, and i would agree this would be a long term solution then a quick fix.
Mayank, my reference to the use of army was actually half seriousness and half exasperation. Actually you are right that villagers along the NH/SH show more road sense. Generally NH/SH have better behaved traffic. But its within the cities I have observed mostly commercial vehicles are quite the culprits, mind you I am not discounting private vehicle owners. In Kolkata specially we have a completely privatized transport system with the successive governments using it as vote banks. As a result we have completely irrational bus routes, competition among buses to pick passengers resulting in frequent deaths and non-existent enforcement of traffic rules by the cops. Actually if a bus driver runs over a pedestrian and causes death a bailable warrant is issued and he can be out of jail in less than a day after paying a fine of Rs. 100. All this to protect the vote bank that comes from the transport unions regardless of political color.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aqualeo2040 View Post
Hello Samar,
Seems you are really put off by the City of Joy's traffic.

Yes, I do agree that the traffic is a bit unruly and slow. However, if you really want to see people violating traffic rules, Hyderabad & Pune should be your first stop. Bangalore comes very close as well.
I really appreciate the CP rule to have pillions wearing helmets too. (Remember wearing a nice tiny helmet while riding with my dad on his Bajaj Super).

That city is 300+ years old and wasnt planned for driving around in limos, a fact which we Calcuttans have come to terms with. Also need to mention that Cal has one of the best Public Transport connectivity in the country!
We can have more roads in the CBD, but that can happen only by bringing down the heritage buildings!
Yes, the quality of the roads are pathetic. The places where they are tarred too, feels like a roller coaster ride. This is one thing Didi must attend too.
If the traffic of Calcutta irks you, think about Mumbai. They have 4 major arterial roads i.e. SV Road, WE Highway, EE Highway (sorry Mumbaikars, forgot the 4th). A traffic jam in one slowly converts into a traffic jam in all. Cal at least has those nice bylanes. If you know your lanes, you will never get stuck in a traffic jam in the city .

I dont think there's any respect for those tell-tale signals, indicators in any major metro. In Blr, we are constantly wary of the smart biker trying to overtake you from the left. The less we mention about the autowallahs, the better!

The best part about Cal traffic is that the city lacks road rage! While I constantly observe, hand gestures & fingers (pointing & lifted) in Blr, In Cal, the people just honk and move on. That eases off a lot of tension on the road and you are not always on the edge! (I have nudged couple of vehicles in Cal, and I came away without a word being said. Just a frown & a smile ). Am sure, it is not that easy in most of other indian cities (you can get Baseballed in Delhi, windscreen smashed in Bangalore, etc etc..)

Stuff happens. Its up to us to do something about it. Keep following the rules, and soon a few more idiots will surely start following you. (I hope I dont sound too Gandhian)
Aqualeo, as I said earlier, you also need to take into account the volume of traffic handled by the other cities. Simply by the sheer no. of vehicles on the road, most cities like Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai are way ahead of Kolkata. A lot of rules like helmets for pillion riders still remain on paper with the cops intermittently acting against the offenders specially when they have to meet their monthly quote of collecting fines. To your point Cal being having the best public connectivity you should check with an average public transport user here on that. On many bus routes there are a plethora of buses plying and many routes remain completely ignored with a paltry number of buses plying. This due to the either lackadaisical planning or blatant corruption in granting licenses. The result is private commercial buses involved in public transport violate all traffic laws at will and cause the maximum no. of deaths for pedestrians. As I said earlier all bus drivers causing pedestrian deaths just get off with a slap on their wrist and are back on the road within a week driving the same or a different bus. Pedestrians do bear the brunt of the road unruliness here but they too are not entirely guiltless. They cross streets wherever they want. Actually I have seen foot overbridges fitted with escalators and elevators for them to use but you will see hardly a soul using them. Its all taxpayer money being used to build these costly facilities but they remain totally unused here. Road rage is something which is missing because you can hardly trudge along beyond 20 or 30 KMPH at peak hours. Except for the private transport buses when they are in a hurry to pick up passengers. Actually on the rarest of rare occasions I have seen traffic rules being imposed, flow of traffic is much smoother and efficient. But alas indiscipline seems to be the norm in this city almost like a genetic characteristic of the average road user. I have not even started talking about the totally inept PWD and the corporation who are tasked to maintain the roads. Or even the totally dilapidated condition of most public transport vehicles used here be it a taxi or a bus. It actually took 8 looooooong years for the government to enforce the "No 2 stroke auto-rickshaws running on kerosene + petrol" on the roads here. Seriously the list of violations by the public transport vehicles is endless.

I will continue posting with actual real life pictures of how pathetic the situation is out here to demonstrate how it ranks in the worst cities in terms of traffic IMHO.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 11:40   #8
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
I'd tend to disagree with the original question on the Title Line for the thread. I stay in Delhi NCR, and visit Calcutta (sorry, still prefer the old name) about twice a year.

From what I have seen, barring the Taxis, Autos and Mini-buses, Calcutta traffic, is way more civilized than what we have here in the NCR. Bikers, Autos and Buses are the same everywhere. They are an equal menace here as well.

So, what is it that makes Calcutta seem worse?
1. The way the road infrastructure in Calcutta is planned and designed. Most places the Roads are too narrow and enough Fly-overs and Under-passes are not available. This creates a lot more bottlenecks than would otherwise be the case.
2. The pollution levels on the roads. Delhi has done a much better job of containing this menace, and hence made it more pleasant to drive.

Everything else, is just the same.
I do differ a bit on this. The problems of Calcutta/Kolkata are really multiplied exponentially exactly because of the problems you have cited above. Even 12 years back when I lived in NCR, I could see proper bus bays for passengers and buses which allowed for smooth flow of traffic. Sure unruly vehicles are just about everywhere but then I have never seen buses stopping right at the traffic intersections to pick/drop passengers ignoring the clear instruction that "This Is Not A Bus Stop/No Buses Should Stop Here". Actually every bus stops there and passengers wait patiently for buses there. This is not counting where buses stop anywhere to pick or drop a passenger at great risk to the passengers themselves. The place where buses will NEVER stop is the place where a structure is put with a sign "Bus Stop" .

Coming to the auto rickshaws here. They run on a shared basis and are allowed to carry a maximum of 4 passengers, 3 at the back and one sharing the seat with the driver. Mind you this is not allowed in Mumbai, not even in Navi Mumbai from my own experience. But here there are during peak hours 6 persons on the auto-rickshaw besides the driver, that is 3 passengers sharing the front seat with the driver. This after a clear guideline from the insurance companies that no life insurance payout would happen should you die in an accident if you were the 6th or even the 5th passenger on the auto-rickshaw.

Pollution levels are not a much discussed topic any more. This after it took eight years to implement a court order to phase out 2-stroke auto rickshaws and commercial vehicles older than 15 years. Now this rule is continuously broken as it has been interpreted as vehicles later than 1993 can still ply on the roads since the rule was finally enforced in 2008. So now we have commercial vehicles over 18 years old still plying and the transport department not even making a peep of a sound about not renewing their licenses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbhiJ View Post
Was driving back from the airport yesterday and was near nicco park ( a 2 lane road effectively) . I was driving behind a minibus on the right side of the road. The minibus bus suddenly changed lanes to the left and before I could react braked hard and turned a hard right. He basically took a U turn, without signalling, planning or giving thought to the traffic behind.

I screeched to a halt basically, with 2-3 cars behind me doing the same.

That said...traffic management in the suburbs ( i.e. Howrah, Liluah et al ) has gotten much better recently ... after TMC.

Lot more and younger people (of both sexes) managing traffic, and enforcing one ways etc. Its a pleasant change.
Thankfully you are safe. In most cases, you run the risk of the drivers behind you ramming into you because they are blissfully talking on their cellphones and not paying attention on the road. U-turn seems to be a specialty of this city here . I find most vehicles on the roads u-turning almost all the time.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 12:00   #9
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

Hi Samarjit,

I just have a small think to say- I have spent many year in kolkata and had thought the traffic to be the worst but after spending a little more than a year in Bangalore, I am already starting to think better about Kolkata traffic . At least you dont have bikers riding over pedestrian sidewalks ( one reason is that kolkata does not have any- most encroached by hawkers )

Last edited by adg_andy : 2nd January 2012 at 12:02.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 12:22   #10
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

I recently returned from a 4500 Km drive -- Kolkata-Varanasi-Kanpur-Lucknow-Bareilly-Haldwani-Almora-Binsar-Nainital-Delhi-Agra-Kolkata -- and realised that Kolkata traffic is in quite good shape compared to the places I visited.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 13:13   #11
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

@samarjitdhar,
I said it earlier and I'll have to repeat again. Traffic sense in Calcutta is bad, but certainly far from the worst. The only complaint I had in the city was - average speeds are lesser than what I would have expected out of a metro. But then this is Kolkata - the average man hardly would be driving a 2 wheeler, forget a 4 wheeler.

But my drivings were mostly in the weekends and for a span of 2 odd months, so people who feel otherwise, please take this with a pinch of salt.

Reasons why I think Cal is still better
  • Average speeds of vehicles is lesser
  • Road rage is extremely less (also mentioned by someone above)
  • Infrastructure to vehicle traffic ratio is better (you need to get to the west to understand this)
  • Good number of bylanes that are relatively empty (had a localite friend who guided me on this during all the drives)
However I did need to pay extra attention on the road all the time. And as I mentioned above, I had to lower my average speeds considerably less, as compared to other metro/tier 1 cities. And as for going through the bylanes, it's a risky affair, but not that big a deal.

Also, a Swift is far easier to handle than a Vento, I guess - so I can definitely understand your anguish.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 13:51   #12
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

What makes the traffic situation uniquely worse in Kolkata?

Here's my take on it:

Cause:

Chauffeured cars. A vast majority of car owners in the city prefer to avail services of hired drivers. As sound as it may seem for rich businessmen and bureaucrats with their big expensive machines, even the average hatch owners surprisingly prefer the cramped backseats and end up spending more on drivers than what they pay as EMI or fuel bills. My next door neighbor avails the services of a permanent driver for his daily commute in his Nano(base) and shells out a measly salary.

Effect:

Hired drivers cause nuisance, they seldom bother about their own car, leave alone the other cars around him. He is ill tempered owing to the measly salary that the hatch owning class dish out to them. Often, it is the novices that settle for a low salary(as low as Rs.2,800/month) who have no idea about traffic rules and regulations. Their schooldays were so short that the word "discipline" is unknown. Lane driving? What's a lane? Graduating from the 1970s Ambassador training cars, the Alto suddenly feels like a Ferrari and the Schumi in them tries aping the Auto-rickshaw maneuvers. Drivers operating rental vehicles are always in a hurry, adding to nudges and hits which inevitably create traffic snarls. This is a genuinely Kolkata specific problem. If my estimate is correct, over 80% of private cars in the city are chauffeur driven. This is the foremost cause for lack of road discipline/lane driving.


Cause:

Encroachment! The "footpath" by definition is a market, where you set up shops/homes/party offices by bribing the local authorities and paying monthly rent to local goons who are, supposedly, the owners of the "footpath". Foot soldiers therefore, are forced to go jaywalking on roads meant for vehicles, and they do so with a strange amount of arrogance. No you do not need a butch SUV to own the roads, you can do it on foot.
The "Bus Bays" are where the Auto-Rick terminals are, where scores of ricks pile up, forget buses, there aint enough space left to maneuver a bi-cycle in the "Bus Bays".
A "Bus-Terminal" is a 30 feet x 20 feet vacant space beside a road, assigned by the local councilor, where 25-30 full sized buses stay parked (inevitably encroaching more than half the road) and operate from.

Effect:

Though the encroachment of footpaths are not unique to Kolkata, the way the people walks on/crosses the roads defying signals and oncoming vehicles projects an unique note of disdain and arrogance. They inevitably end up slowing down traffic and cause accidents. The "n" number of times I've had to swerve and brake to avoid these zombies could outdo a 10 digit calculator.
Even some 10 years ago, the buses mostly used to stick to the left most lanes(now demarcated as "Bus Bays" at some congested places), leaving the fast lane open. That is not the present scenario. Now buses use any available space on the road, race each other, and stop at their will across all lanes as per their whims, immediately creating long trails of vehicles piled up behind it. The bus bays are inaccessible.
New Bus routes are introduced daily, however, the terminals for those routes are provided on DIY(Do it yourself) basis. In comes the local neta who allots part of the road(public road mind you) as the terminal. A mammoth bus(ACGL body type) trying to maneuver itself into a tight parking spot inevitably end up blocking the entire road for 5-10 minutes. On an average, this happens at least 40 times a day at a single such terminal with 20 buses. Again Kolkata specific issues, have not noticed them elsewhere.


Cause:

Civic Traffic Volunteers!The State does not have enough manpower to man every traffic post. They are too broke to appoint new personnel. So, to achieve two goals with one shot we have the "Civic Traffic Volunteers". Now we have all the manpower(3 volunteers in place of a single constable) and we have the 100 day job guarantee target fulfilled as well. To clarify, these volunteers are basically local youth(politically affiliated mind you), with no knowledge or training about traffic rules and traffic management whatsoever, who are given a free hand to take their daily hooliganism on the streets and are paid to do so. Inevitably, 50 cars must wait to let the local "Pinky" cross the road, dilly dallying and moon walking with a shy look of acknowledgment for the local "Babloo"(the traffic volunteer), who wields his stick like a sledge-hammer and showers verbal niceties towards any car if they even dare to honk. They even demolish the dividers at their will making a new intersections everyday.


Effect:

They mess up way more than they help. They are a threat to the vehicles and occupants as they do not hesitate to damage "defiant" vehicles and are known to beat up drivers. Sometimes the other way around. They do not have an iota of idea about what they are supposed to do, except chewing on gutkha ans spitting anywhere. Reportedly, they even try to extort!
Frequent unauthorized intersections means frequent stops and hence tedious snarls. The main roads in Kolkata have way too many intersections hampering free flow of traffic. This is one of the root causes of snarls in the city.


Cause:

Development work! Being an old city, planning viz. cables laying, sewage, transmission posts, etc. was really not thought of keeping the future needs in mind. Therefore, every other day the same patches of roads are dug up for repair and maintenance work, laying of new pipes, etc. Development is welcome, however, if planned properly, the same patch would not have been needed to be dug up 25 times in an year. The subsequent patching up of the road is pathetic and cannot sustain even an hour long steady shower. Flyover and Metro projects are being unnecessarily held up( i read the state had to return unused funds to the center!). The commencement of work for the Dunlop flyover ages back to the 80's!


Effect:

Large parts of roads left unusable, chocking points, dust and debris, diversions.



Rants ends! Phew!
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Old 2nd January 2012, 20:36   #13
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

I surely seem to have opened a can of worms here though it does seem that folks who have driven continuously at peak hours for a longish period of time in Kolkata and I mean many months and years would tend to agree with me while the occasional visitor might not find much of a difference or even find things better than other cities.

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Originally Posted by adg_andy View Post
At least you dont have bikers riding over pedestrian sidewalks ( one reason is that kolkata does not have any- most encroached by hawkers )
Bingo, though if there is a sidewalk available and not enough space for bikers to squeeze through or go down the other (wrong) lane because of oncoming traffic I will post pictures of this phenomenon happening. Though not unique to Kolkata, I have seen bikers in Bangalore performing the same stunts.

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Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
I recently returned from a 4500 Km drive -- Kolkata-Varanasi-Kanpur-Lucknow-Bareilly-Haldwani-Almora-Binsar-Nainital-Delhi-Agra-Kolkata -- and realised that Kolkata traffic is in quite good shape compared to the places I visited.
I would agree with the cities you have quoted in the list. Probably I had the major metro cities of India in mind when I created this topic. We also need to consider the volume of traffic handled during peak hours. Most major metro cities probably handle 4 to 5 times more traffic than Kolkata does a point I stressed a number of times. I will continue hunting for actual statistics on this and post them on this thread.

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Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
@samarjitdhar,
I said it earlier and I'll have to repeat again. Traffic sense in Calcutta is bad, but certainly far from the worst. The only complaint I had in the city was - average speeds are lesser than what I would have expected out of a metro. But then this is Kolkata - the average man hardly would be driving a 2 wheeler, forget a 4 wheeler.

But my drivings were mostly in the weekends and for a span of 2 odd months, so people who feel otherwise, please take this with a pinch of salt.

Reasons why I think Cal is still better
  • Average speeds of vehicles is lesser
  • Road rage is extremely less (also mentioned by someone above)
  • Infrastructure to vehicle traffic ratio is better (you need to get to the west to understand this)
  • Good number of bylanes that are relatively empty (had a localite friend who guided me on this during all the drives)
However I did need to pay extra attention on the road all the time. And as I mentioned above, I had to lower my average speeds considerably less, as compared to other metro/tier 1 cities. And as for going through the bylanes, it's a risky affair, but not that big a deal.

Also, a Swift is far easier to handle than a Vento, I guess - so I can definitely understand your anguish.
Ninja, thanks for your insight. In one of your earlier posts you did mention you were the designated driver on weekends which is a far cry from traffic on work days. Agreed average speed is less, and it cannot be fast in any way given the situation . Road rage is comparatively less because we Bengalis are generally a peace loving race and apart from limited outbursts of anger we rarely take the law in our own hands which I must say is a good thing in most cases. But it doesn't decrease the frustration in any way. As to by-lanes, yes there are quite a lot of them which I too usually take. The biggest risks with them are you will find children playing, adults socializing, cars parked at obtuse angles, bumps every 10 meters and all kinds of slow moving forms of transport (cycle rickshaws, hand pulled rickshaws, etc.) which will ensure that your stress levels don't come down at not having used the main roads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
What makes the traffic situation uniquely worse in Kolkata?

Here's my take on it:

Rants ends! Phew!
For the sake of not repeating what you so succinctly put across. Bravo Except that you forgot to mention the rickety old trams trudging along the city sometimes even the opposite side of one way roads. They frequently break down specially when they are turning from the depot on the side of the road and trying to get onto the other side of the road. The traffic snarls they create is a view that can be observed over Google Maps.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 22:12   #14
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

@samarjitdhar - an interesting topic and I hope its taken in the right spirit.

*** These are just my views and you may disagree ***

I think the problem is more or less same everywhere, and everyone of us need to be aware and follow traffic rules and police should be allowed to work freely and without any political intervention. We can't have a 50ft road, with hawkers on both side along with parking and expect average speed to be more than 10km/h. The authorities responsible for planning etc, need to be more efficient.

Agree with some of your observations and disagree with some.
Hawkers, footpath occupied, auto rickshaw - hardly any of them use proper indicator, bus stopping exactly where its mentioned "BUS Should not stop here" and few more.

Trams was a bit of surprise because what you mentioned is absolutely correct few years back, majority of them would come out of track while taking turns (rashbehari, gariahat, wellington, ultadanga, nonapukur tram depot and many more) but after the tram tracks were rebuilt with concrete in most of the city it has come down for sure and also the tram route has been reduced.

Public transport - so many options - think about the metro 28yrs old now, buses/trams/cycle rickshaw/hand rickshaw/auto/train/taxi/shuttle...

Ok, few stats as I remember (you may correct it as you said you are searching for the latest stats) -

- Most polluted : Kolkata

You mentioned more traffic in peak hours, I am not sure if you considered the no. of cars or buses (1 bus = approx. 10 motorbike) and the size of the road they are in.
- Car density (no. of car/km) most in Kolkata, followed by Bangalore

- Delhi has the highest road percentage in India ~20%, Calcutta has the lowest ~6%, Bombay and Chennai double that of Calcutta, ideally they say ~30% is required

- Kolkata has the lowest accident rate when compared with delhi, bombay, chennai, bangalore

If we consider the above (last 3) points, I believe credit must be given to the traffic police.
I am not sure which city you are comparing, CP are one of the best with the available resources in handling traffic, BTW look-wise too I mean 6ft riding red bullet (ya I know now a days bullets are not always given due to high price and low mileage), hunter shoes, sunglasses and clean white dress - they look the smartest probably 2nd to the mounted police riding horses. These mounted police are probably the most efficient in handling large queues, especially in Maidan controlling 10-20K people during a match at eden or a ticket queue in mohunbagan/eastbengal/md. sporting ground.

As for 6 people getting in an auto, more than auto driver or cops we are to blame, I mean no one is forcing us to get into the right side seat of auto driver with half of our body out of the vehicle.

The bus stops because we raise our hand and ask them to stop. And as you rightly mentioned, public transport is mostly privatized in Calcutta and the way it work I guess is on commission basis (and not fixed salary) to each conductor/helper, to driver, rest fuel and then to owner + maintenance, also add the well wishers. It might have changed with the new routes and buses where they may work in per day contract basis like the taxis but that should not be an excuse in not following traffic rules.

Last edited by AvonA7 : 2nd January 2012 at 22:34. Reason: edit ...
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Old 2nd January 2012, 22:51   #15
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Default Re: Does Kolkata Have The Worst Traffic in India?

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I find Kolkata really takes the cake in road madness.
Wherever you are seems to be always simultaneously the best and worst place in the world. That's how it is, for everybody.

Having driven in pretty much every city in India my take is that if you leave aside the honking, Cal traffic is actually fairly disciplined. I grew up and learnt driving there, and whenever I do visit home I do drive myself all around town. Yes traffic has increased but overall the situation is not as bad as it is elsewhere. Try Mumbai - takes three hours to go from end to end in the city. At 9.30 pm.

NCR/Gurgaon is much more scary. I'd say the road users (not just vehicle drivers) are the most stupid, arrogant, ignorant and indisciplined (and all of this simultaneously) in the entire country here. I have lived in and driven pretty much every metro city in the country through my career like a good migrant bong, and trust me you have to experience this place to believe it.

Barrelling down at full throttle on the wrong side of the road because they're too lazy to take a U-turn, ambling across the road and stopping to pick up a coin or a toffee, crossing 6 lanes without a look in the mirror, ignoring signal lights, one-way signs, and lane-cutting in very dangerous manner. And of course there is the pulling out of guns, using mobs to beat down a road rage victim, and general violence that comes naturally to the road-user of the region.

And the situation with public transport is the same in every part of the country, so no, it's not those I'm talking about. The surprising place about this place is that *owner drivers* do this kind of nonsense. Yes, owners of their own vehicles. They usually know someone.

Everybody in Delhi seems to know someone. And you have to assume the guy is carrying a gun. The roads here are a battlefield, the cars are the weapons, and trust me people have died here - not only in collisions. Road crime in Delhi - abductions, rapes, and assault from moving cars - guess which city leads the pack?

And there are no cops. The only thing they get you for is minor offences. No seatbelts. Smoking in cars. Talking on the cellphone. No prosecution of how people drive. If you can call that driving.

Calcutta is far more peaceful. The people are more easygoing, if a little impatient. The mobs are dangerous if you let them gather though, but that is more the sideshow. The traffic cops in Calcutta are actually the most efficient gang in the country - you are welcome to not believe it but it's true. If one had the drivers traffic sense of Mumbai, the traffic cops of Calcutta and the roads of Delhi it would be a perfect combination.

If you think Calcutta is bad, try a provincial North Indian town. Like Kotdwar, Meerut, or Bijnor. Or try to drive to Jaipur from Delhi. You will know what chaos actually is, and how bad road sense can actually ever get - if you manage to get out in the same bodily configuration as you entered. Delhi, by contrast, is child's play.
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