Ban on heavy vehicles reduces burden on express highways

Mumbai

A traffic experiment started October 23 last year across city's main carriageways has helped decrease commute time by 40 minutes on the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) and by 20 minutes on the Western Express Highway (WEH). The experiment entailed banning heavy vehicles on these stretches during peak hours.

Owing to the experiment's success, the traffic department has now decided to continue the blanket ban on heavy vehicles on both the highways during peak hours.

According to traffic police, of the several methods adopted over months, relief of 40 and 20 minutes on both parallel stretches has helped in controlling traffic spill to business districts like Bandra-Kurla Complex, Andheri, Lower Parel, and Nariman Point.

As complaints of congestion increased in 2013, the Mumbai Traffic Police issued a blanket ban on commodity vehicles from commuter-heavy highways during peak hours 7 am to 11 am for south-bound traffic, and 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm for north-bound traffic.

Traffic junctions at Vikhroli, Chembur and Goregaon have seen the best results, along with arterial roads around BKC and Parel. The biggest problem spot: Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road has now lesser traffic at peak hours, according to traffic reports.

"Goods carriers and heavy vehicles were the major cause for long snarls on both the highways," said Pratap Dighavkar, Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic). With no traffic data to back "this obvious assumption", Dighavkar says they looked to study transit patterns across the city over 2013.

"One police sub-inspector and six constables were posted at each traffic post across the city's highways to monitor signal cycles and traffic packets and relay information to the next traffic post and controls," he said.

A traffic packet is the volume of vehicles that stop at every traffic signal. The circle of consecutive traffic halts at a traffic junction constitutes a signal cycle. "For two months, we studied each traffic packet and tried to understand what kind of vehicles take the maximum road length. We then studied the traffic signal cycles, comparing the vehicle groups before arriving at the time-gap rescued. Notes and graphics were made on each traffic snarl and studied," said Dighavkar.

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