In Srinagar city traffic is becoming unmanageable with increasing number of vehicles coming up on roads every year, poor public transport services and means, besides the lacunae in traffic department.
Primary means of transportation for general public continues to be minibuses. Public transport system is in complete mess. People have limited options so far as state road transport corporation buses are considered, the fleet of which has not been sufficient for years now. Compared to other cities that have been adding new and modern buses to their fleets, we don’t see it happen in Srinagar or in Kashmir. In the city minibuses is the only means for short distance travels. But they are always overcrowded. Authorities have never succeeded in checking the overloading of minibuses that ply on roads in the city.
Other than being overloaded, the minibuses can stop anywhere. There are no permanent bus stops. To pick the passenger the minibuses can be seen halting for minutes even in the middle of the road. It increases the travel time which is a great inconvenience. To reach a short distance it takes minutes and hours. Daily commuters who travel by bus include students, who have to reach the institutes on time. Seeing the minibuses halt after travelling short distances, students and other passengers are often frustrated. It happens every day and for many it becomes a habit.
Quite often one does not find bus services to different towns and villages. Add to it the congestion on the roads, and you get the picture of traffic mess here.
The option two for daily commuters is auto rickshaw, which is really heavy on the pocket. The auto rickshaws here run on petrol only and therefore charge very high. We don’t have low cost fuels like CNG here. Autos that run on CNG in other cities and towns charge much lesser than those that use expensive fuel like petrol. If that’s not enough, auto rickshaw owners do not charge as per meters. You will almost always find a meter in the auto, but no auto rickshaw owner would use it. It is just a formality to keep the meter in the auto. They are least bothered about complaints or queries because the authorities have never taken an action against them.
In Kashmir or Srinagar we do not have services like Uber and Ola. They are convenient, safe and don’t cost much. Here we hardly get a cab to reach anywhere. Cabs like Sumo, Tavera and Scorpio can be boarded for long routes or to cover larger distance. But they also suffer from the same issues as that of minibuses. There are fewer of them, passengers have to run after them on some routes to get a seat, etc. They are restricted usually to inter-district travel.
While other cities are continuously modernizing and are being developed to allow maximum convenience to the people, same cannot be said of Srinagar city. Every city has unique transportation facilities that take care of the needs of the local people. Nevertheless some of the modern means of transportation have made a mark in almost every city. We have trams, metros and even water transportation systems. If these may be not be available in the city, why can’t Srinagar have AC buses like those in Delhi. These AC buses can be seen in every city and most of the towns, then why not Srinagar. Why can’t we have proper and permanent bus stops in the city? We can have proper route maps, chartered bus services and regulated fares. Further we can have low cost fuels that would cut down the travel cost for the people and help in saving more money for everyone. Also eco-friendly bus service and use of electric powered vehicles can ensure environmental protection as well. With lesser pollutants in the air the city may give to the people a better health option.
Only on one thing people seem to have their full focus – politics. But when it comes to doing something good we never see them. Now that municipal elections have been called, let us see what different would it make.
The state government should address and prioritize these grave issues and come up with new and modified transport means which would help in easing traffic mess in and around city.