The ‘Hindu’ Speed of Traffic

In the small town of Nuh in Mewat district in Haryana, I once counted as many as 76 passengers coming out of a single jeep (locally called “maxi- cab”), a very normal mode of transportation in that region that is less than a 100 kilometers, yet a century away from New Delhi.

Its not just the volume, but also, as Praful Bidwai observes, the speed of traffic that is changing:

Most people in big or small cities would say it now takes twice as long to commute from one place to another, as it did a decade, even five years, ago. This is borne out by micro-level studies. For instance, in Mumbai, motorised traffic slowed down from an average of 38 kilometres per hour in 1962 to 15-20 kmph in 1993, in Delhi from 20-27 kmph in 1997 to 15 kmph in 2002. In Chennai, the average speed was as low as 13 kmph in 2002, and in Kolkata a glacial 7 kmph in the city centre.

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