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Congestion costs: a Mumbai case study | Opinion – analysis


Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and New Delhi are among the 10 most congested cities in the world, according to the recently published TomTom Traffic Index of 2019. This will not come as a surprise to anyone living or visiting these cities. People in these cities pay higher fuel costs, inhale toxic gases and cannot efficiently manage their time. There are also broader economic consequences. An IDFC Institute study reveals the consequences of congestion for Mumbai and how to address them.

The average resident of Mumbai wastes 11 days a year stuck in traffic. That is a significant loss of productivity in a megacity that represents approximately 17% of Maharashtra’s gross domestic product (GDP). With more than 700,000 people entering Mumbai to work every day, it is, in the words of urban planner Alain Bertaud, a labor market, as are all cities. In a city that works well, companies can optimize the costs of finding employees and transporting goods and services to their consumers. People, in turn, can find work that matches their skills and are more likely to change jobs for convenience or for better opportunities. Being able to move quickly through the city is key to ensuring that these markets are dynamic and run smoothly. However, congestion has reduced such mobility in Mumbai, resulting in inefficient labor markets and serious economic and environmental consequences.

To measure and analyze the impact of such congestion, we use publicly available Uber Movement data points from 2016 to 2018. The average journey on the critical Mumbai routes is more than one hour. That’s twice the averages of Hong Kong, Singapore and New York. Car speeds also differ substantially depending on the direction in which a person is traveling. For example, residents can drive twice as fast when starting from the south (Marine Drive) compared to east of Mumbai (Chembur) when traveling to their jobs in the Bandra Kurla (BKC) complex

The extra time stuck in traffic that travels between residential areas in northern Mumbai, such as Borivali, and some of the city’s central business districts, such as Lower Parel, impose economic costs of more than 350 rupees per day per person. In particular, blocked roads are causing travelers to lose more than 100 rupees in wages and spend an additional 250 rupees on fuel every day. These high individual costs impair the city’s productivity, as residents of northern Mumbai will probably not seek long-term work in the south, even if it matches their skill set. As a result, companies in these commercial districts cannot access the most suitable candidates to employ and vice versa.

While people bear the economic costs of congestion, these displacements impose heavy burdens on the city’s environment. It has been previously estimated that it costs Indian cities $ 0.086 per kilogram of carbon dioxide emitted. Using this figure, we found that trips made in Mumbai generally cost between Rs 6 and Rs 60 in additional carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, longer distances do not always mean higher emissions in the city. For example, the 14 km trip between Borivali and Andheri East costs Rs 22 for additional emissions, compared to the 27 km trip between Marine Drive and Andheri East which costs only Rs 6. Mumbai is already the fourth most polluted megacity in the world . New Delhi is currently in first place. If not addressed, Mumbai’s air quality will worsen and become a serious public health problem.

The strangulation points along the main Mumbai routes are the ones that contribute most to the high congestion costs. For example, drivers suffer speeds of less than 10 km per hour when entering and leaving major commercial districts such as Lower Parel and BKC. The driving speed on the side lanes has decreased significantly with travelers facing speeds of less than 8 km per hour on certain roads. Most worrisome is that new throttle points have emerged between 2016 and 2018. For example, driving between Kandivali and Borivali was relatively fast in 2016, with average speeds of about 40 km per hour, compared to 2018, when this figure almost It was cut in half at 23 km per hour. . While the construction of the Mumbai metro system has played a role in increasing congestion, the data shows that these new critical points emerged before work began.

Eradicating strangulation points should be the government’s first step to improve ease of movement. This can be achieved by carrying out granular interventions, as well as pilots of the Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) in these bottlenecks. ITMS plans to modernize radar-operated traffic signals and CCTV cameras in Mumbai. By choosing to install the first batch of smart traffic lights in the identified bottlenecks, the government will maximize the impact of the system on Mumbai’s traffic flow, reduce congestion and increase the city’s economic productivity. Mumbai’s contribution to state GDP would be even greater if the negative impacts of congestion were eliminated. Therefore, to boost growth, the government must prioritize addressing the Mumbai traffic problem. In doing so, it will catalyze the financial capital of India to reach its economic potential.

Harsh Vardhan Pachisia is an associate and Kadambari Shah is a senior associate at the IDFC Institute

The opinions expressed are personal.

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