The Transport Department’s data till December 1 shows the State has 3.03 crore vehicles, growing at a steady rate of 8 per cent to 10 per cent in the recent years, except last year when the COVID lockdown was imposed.
What worries public transportation advocates is that of the 3.03 crore vehicles, transport vehicles constitute a mere 4.32 per cent (13.10 lakh) while the remaining 95.68 per cent are non-transport vehicles (2.90 crore). Transportation experts said that a fourth of all trips were on personal motor vehicles and cabs. Two-wheelers continue to drive the vehicular population up with 2.56 crore vehicles, which is 84.50 per cent of the total.
Amid the manifold increase in personalised transport vehicles like cars and two-wheelers, there seems to be a stagnation or even decline in the growth of public transportation vehicles, particularly buses. The number of buses – termed stage carriages in transportation study parlance – has declined to 28,588, including 20,926 public buses and 7,662 private ones, in December 2020 from 31,015 in March 2016.
A professor from the Department of Transportation Engineering, Anna University, said that the steep increase in personal transport vehicles indicated increasing affordability and also unreliability of public transportation systems.
“Increase in the number of two-wheelers and cars on the road leads to traffic congestion and long duration journeys to reach the destination. The government should take measures to improve public transportation like providing separate lane for the buses which will ensure faster movement, and reducing the fares to encourage people to make use of them,” the professor said.
Also, he added, government should increase parking charges steeply and restrict on-street parking to disincentivise people from using personal vehicles.