Changing the way Nashik commutes
As one drives towards Mumbai Naka, the mind is filled with uncertainty as one does not know what one will encounter there… a huge truck suddenly blocking the path, a cyclist trying to wriggle through between the car and the truck and before one knows how to proceed, one is startled by a lady with a child choosing that very moment to cross the road suddenly and an auto driver mistaking her for a prospective passenger suddenly screeching to a halt even as he is accelerating… As if that is not enough, a bus rushes out of the depot and at the same moment an ambulance with an emergency patient tries desperately to find a way through… And watching all this is a cop trying to direct the traffic as best as he can amidst this huge mess!
It is precisely to address this chaos across congested junctions in the city that Urban Mass Transit Company Ltd was commissioned to carry out a comprevensive survey and present a long term traffic management plan for Nashik. Asked about implementation of this plan, NMC Commissioner Abhishek Krishna said, “Currently we are going through this report and studying it in detail. Only after completing this exercise can we take any decision on the recommendations.”
The district collector Radhakrishnan B calls for traffic discipline among vehicle users for any plan to work in the city.
So, what is the plan
The Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Plan (CTTP) for the plan period 2016-36 aims at supporting economic growth and providing safe, affordable and seamless mobility for all the residents and tourists of Nashik. According to the study, the city is facing several challenges like high volume of personal transport, absence of pedestrian walkways and crossing facilities and absence of universal accessibility.
Inadequate and poor Public Transport
Public Transport in Nashik mainly comprises buses. Currently MSRTC is operating the city bus service. There are total 243 buses plying on 508 routes carrying 1.28 lakh passengers everyday. This figure of passengers is steadily reducing since 2013 at a negative Compound Annual Growth Rate of 8.1 percent, which clearly indicates a significant increase in personal transport leading to further congestion on roads. The city is facing transportation issues and challenges like dilapidated buses and improper access to bus terminals.
The total number of accidents in the city was 1320 in the year 2015 of which 213 were fatal, that is 16 percent. The total number of accidents are increasing at an average annual growth rate of 6.9 percent.
Drawing citizens to Public Transport
A transit oriented development (TOD) plan will encourage citizens to walk and use public transport rather than private vehicles. Under Multi Nodal Transit Concept, the plan recommends developing each town like Panchavati, Mahatmanagar, Indiranagar as a node, creating Non Motorized Transport network for each node, promoting mixed use development to encourage short trips and finally putting in place urban mobility corridors to connect the nodes.
The plan also suggests exploring TOD options like Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail Transit and Mono Rail Transit by exploiting higher FSI. The plan provides land use and sustainable transport strategies like public transport improvement strategy, non motorized transport strategy, road network strategy, travel demand management strategy, freight management strategy, traffic engineering strategy and technological strategy.
No freight vehicles between 8 am and 8 pm
The CTTP recommends that Freight Vehicles should not be allowed in the city between 8 am and 8 pm to decongest the city. Deputy Regional Transport Officer Bharat Kalaskar says, “It is worth trying on an experimental basis to decongest overcrowded places in the city. Only trucks carrying essential commodities can be allowed during the day.”
Traffic management to get smarter
The CTTP recommends that Traffic Control System can be implemented on major PT corridors like part of Old Agra Road from Mumbai Naka to Ashok Stambh.
Pelican signals to the rescue of pedestrians
To make crossing of roads easy for pedestrians like school children, college going students and senior citizens, Pelican signals should be installed near schools and colleges. The facility will provide pedestrians the convenience of stopping traffic at the press of a button of the Pelican signal in order to cross the road.
Pedestrian crossings should be provided at mid-blocks near school college zones and major commercial areas.
An exclusive pedestrian phase should be provided for safe pedestrian crossing with cycle time of at least 15 seconds.
Barricaded foothpaths should be provided near ITI college, Ravivar Karanja road and MG road.
Between CBS bus stand and Shalimar bus stand, an elevated pedestrian walkway is proposed with access at CBS chowk, Shalimar Hotel, Shalimar Bus stop. Shared bicycle lanes should be created for old agra road along civil court and district collector.s office.
Safe and encroachment free footpaths should be provided from Nashik railway station to Nashik-Pune Highway.
Authorized vending places should be provided to vendors.
Total 54 km of dedicated bicycle tracks can be created along with 93.5 km of shared NMT routes.
Need for route rationalization
About 55% of the total 508 routes are operating on low demand. The CTTP suggests terminating 316 routes and retaining only 192 routes.
Bridging the innovation gap
The CTTP recommends introduction of public bike sharing and feeder bus services, designing intersections to address accessibility for pedestrians and bicycles and constructing mass transit corridors.
Commissioner of Police Dr Ravinder Singal focused on the need for innovation and the parking woes in the heart of the city. He said, “Like any other city, Nashik too has its peculiarities and unique demands. Innovation is the key to meet these demands. Everybody should embrace the concept of innovation. Great as well as small innovations are a must to make the city better every day.”
He further said, “The city is seeing a steady increase in vehicles with increasing population. There is an urgent need to find a solution to the parking problem. All options like finding new space for parking, constructing multi-storeyed parking lots etc should be explored immediately. Bumper to bumper traffic is also starting to become common now. Implementing one-ways at many places can help to decongest the roads.”
Pedalling towards an eco-friendly Nashik
The city is getting choked with traffic and pollution is rising. CP Dr Singal further said, “People are becoming more health conscious and are increasingly taking to cycling. Pollution free battery-operated cycles and bikes are popular among people living abroad. This happy trend appears to be catching up in Nashik too. But they need to be provided a safe path to cycle.”