Cities of Uttar Pradesh especially the old ones are facing acute traffic and transportation problems. In spite of making efforts and investments, cities have not been able to cope up with this gigantic problem.
NHs and SHs account for about 80% of total regional traffic movement in UP State. Corridors having proximity to industrial and tourist zones carry major traffic. The major traffic generating zones that are found to be having significant interaction in terms of passenger and good movement are Lucknow, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Agra, Allahabad, Mathura, Sultanpur, Etah, Bareilly, Moradabad, Faizabad, Varanasi, Barabanki, Bulandshahar, Gorakhpur, Rampur, Hapur, Fatehpur, Raibareilly, Muzzafarnagar, Mahoba, Basti.
On analysing the various causes for road congestion, one of the major reason is that the present road network is unable to cater the population growth of the state. Kanpur and Lucknow already had more than a million private vehicles by 2012. In old cities like Allahabad and Meerut the streets have been laid out several years ago which is problematic. They are narrow, lack drainage, and are severely encroached upon by hawkers, road side vendors and informal squatting of vegetable /grocery item. The network is not compatible to accommodate the high speed and larger volume of traffic as well as to provide vehicular access to the premises, buildings, complexes located in built-up area. Utilities such as electric cables, telephone cables, water pipes and sewers are located beneath the roads. Trees and shrubs at the road side are also hazardous to traffic. Accidents are also seen to occur where vehicles crash into large trees growing close to the carriageway which, in many instances, results in a fatality. As in a statement given by Mohit Dev, a transport planner, to The Times of India on July 2014, it is important to construct separate pedestrian and bicycle lanes on the highways to avoid conflicts between motorists and pedestrians. No doubt UP accounted for 13.8% of accidents involving trucks, followed by Andhra Pradesh (12.1%) and Tamil Nadu (12%). To avoid such accidents drivers tend to drive at the middle of the roads; another reason of congestion. Cities like Kanpur and Lucknow, both with the population of approximately three million, witnessed 554 and 473 accidental deaths respectively in 2013.
(Source: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways)
The traffic is heterogeneous, composed mainly of pedestrians, cyclists and cycle rickshaws. The motorised two-wheelers and three-wheelers have now grown in large numbers, even crossing the threshold of a million in many cities. Most of the roads are subjected to very slow, fast moving traffic on the same roads /lanes, due to which the average speed of a city is lowered down. The Pedestrian facilities on all the roads of different levels are inadequate, promoting less of pedestrian movement and more of traffic. As reported by NDTV, though CM Akhilesh Yadav has asked officials to set up cycle tracks and stands, the infrastructural facility discourages bicycling at the moment.
The traffic rules are not properly enforced, the reason being the lack of willingness in administration and extremely less and untrained manpower deputed for this purpose. Though the traffic police look after it but sadly there is no technical way or a systematic traffic management plan.
Roadways are preferred over railways for both short distance travel and transporting perishable goods like fruits, vegetables and milk; whereas railways are preferred for long distance journeys and carriage of freight like petroleum. This is unlikely to change even after rehabilitation of roads in the state. As noted down in the FINAL REPORT (Revision 1) Preparation of Strategic Road Network Master Plan for Uttar Pradesh, PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, WORLD BANK DIVISION, Government of Uttar Pradesh; the Strategic Road Master Plan shall focus on improvement of roads that will generate more local passenger movement to be carried by roads. The report also states that the demand elasticity of road transport is higher (1.6) as compared to railways (1.11) with respect to the GDP, which implies there would be more dependence on roads than rails in the upcoming years.
Also, the report mentions about the emphasis of PWD to widen the carriageway; where the present pavement width is inadequate and causes congestion and delays; to meet the needs of the traffic as per the Strategic Road Master Plan. The programme will undertake reconstruction of weak and narrow cross-drainage structures and geometric improvements. It states that all SHs shall have minimum carriageway width of two lanes. Depending upon the traffic and all the SHs connecting the District Headquarters to Lucknow shall be four laned. Whereas depending upon the traffic the MDRs shall be widen to two lanes or four lanes.
Sadly, not all plans have been able to meet up the set targets in due time. An article in The Economics Times talked about the tussle between the state government and NHAI that caused delay in the highway widening project which was initiated in December 2005. Among these long delayed projects were the Lucknow-Kanpur NH-25, Moradabad-Bareilly NH-24, Ghaziabad-Aligarh NH-91, Bareilly-Sitapur NH-24, Rae Bareilly- Allahabad NH-24 and Delhi-Agra NH-2. Out of them Lucknow-Kanpur NH-25, which was delayed for about a decade, witnesses massive congestion and was criticised by public and industrialists alike. Completion of these projects has now boosted up the average traffic speed of the state.
The recent metro construction undertaken in Lucknow by the UP Government, the roads of the city witness heavy traffic now-a-days. Following the capital city the government has given a nod to metro rail in Kanpur, Allahabad, Meerut and Varanasi. After the commencement of the same the public will rely upon the metro to travel, cropping down the traffic and ultimately congestion.
Meanwhile one of the solution to road congestion is mass transportation. But it is generally neglected in UP since they are inadequate, irregular, unsafe and unreliable. Public instead choose to rely upon private vehicles which not only add up to the traffic but are also unsustainable and major source of pollution.