January 22, 2007

Road to Perdition

My Monday MidDay column, about the roads in Bombay, is here. Your comments welcome.


raghu ram prasad said...

Today I travelled from Santacruz to sion there is huge traffic, it took 02:15 Hrs to reach

Shashikant said...

People use car for various reasons - comfort, speed, convenience, not necessarily all of them together. Public transport fails miserably to provide that.

Why aren't A/C local trains with just enough space so that your body is not touching 5 co-passangers?

Local train may provide you speed. But, what if you need to travel by bus? Situation is same as trains except that bus is moving at the speed of 15 kmph. A/C buses form a tiny percentage of total fleet.

If govt provides comfortable and fast public transport at reasonable rate, people will go for it. People need economic incentive to opt for it.

mumbaigirl said...

Saw your article in DNA too and have linked to it. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Dilip: Offtrack but thanks to mumbaigirl, saw your article on dnasunday about Sahir & Surabhi. Of course y'all look very glam (told V that too). The article itself is great and I do wish adoption becomes "boringly normal" soon. Unfortunately its still one of those shock things. I hope that changes.


Jai_Choorakkot said...

Wow. Well written article and your examples with MsWord and the Shaktiman truck really zing.


Jai_Choorakkot said...

It is possible that ppl like me would associate the 20000:5 ratio of MSWord with actual car:bus space usage though that surely would not be DDS's intention.

In the interest of accuracy, I thought I'd point out that the ratio would be more like:

xx xxx
xx <--small car. big car-->xxx
xx xxx

where x denotes the space that could have been occupied by a person but is occupied by car. The ratios are like 6:1 to 12:1 for one person/car 'bad usage'.

These are excellent ratios and very compelling arguments in favour of public transport.

Thank you,

Baby Vaijayanti and Puppy Manohar said...

With due respect.


I think you have to substantiate your claim that, the more we build roads, the more cars will be out there to tread them. Your computer analogy is an insufficient proof.

Your conclusion that the problem can be solved with innovative solutions and changed civic outlook, is convincing. But the way you have highjacked Moor's law in to a "more roads means more cars , hence more clogging" seems oversimplified.

Software bloats hardware, but thats because software is getting more sophisticated, requiring better hardware. Better hardware broadens software frontiers. Thus, we have an autocatalytic process, a positive feedback cycle.

Your illustration, in fact, seems a bit sketchy (ah dhang you)
1) So 'better' software (MSWord, lolz) crams 'faster/larger' hardware capacity... and likewise....more traffic clogs faster highways,
....so....stop innovating hardware...change mindset towards processing information?????

Vishal Pulpaade Mrs.
Phd. Urban Planning, Cosmetologist and Amateur Masseuse.
Best Camper, Pandurangwadi Shakha Camp, 1985.
"Why build bridges when you can build demolish rivers" - Pierre Bhoomirao Dupont.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Shashikant: the trains give me speed and convenience, for sure. Buses used to travel faster until traffic slowed them down. I do think the govt provides reasonable public transport at a reasonable rate.

Economic incentive? What greater economic incentive would you need than great savings on time and fuel?

Shri Pulpaade: Your computer analogy is an insufficient proof.

That's right. Analogies are never proofs, nor are they intended to be. They are just designed to give you something to think about. As was this article.

By the way, please don't steal my thunder. I won the Best Camper award in Pandurangwadi Shakha Camp in 1985. Did you mean 1986, perchance?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Mumbaigirl and n!: thank you. meant to put up a link to that article here, haven't got around to it.

Baby Vaijayanti and Puppy Manohar said...

Hey Senior!

Oh yes, 1986. Blind me, how time flies. So you were the 1985 Winner!

You got the award for the

Dilips First Law: "the faster the campfire burns the lower the temperature of the forest gets"

Proof: ------

Illustration: software bloats hardware capacity

Conclusion: An alternative heating mechanism should be arranged instead of camp fires. instead of endlessly pushing in wood.

most levingly.
Navneet Shashtri (Mrs),
Chied Editor
Navneet Guides and other harmful substances.
"What is science after all, an illustration of God" - Mrs. Hedgewar

Rahul said...

Nice article on the kids. I'm sure with parents like you Surabhi won't feel in any way "different".

Is it one of those "shock things" as n! says? I guess my circles aren't representative, but I know several adoptive parents (including some close relations), whose families and friends were very supportive. Even when the kids don't look at all like them (parents from the south, kids from hill regions in the north). I've met people in adoption agencies who say the problem is not getting parents so much as screening them and verifying their bona fides -- there is a lot of interest in adoption, especially for girl children.

Anonymous said...

Well, Rahul, that's nice to hear. In my circle if I were to announce that I would like to adopt there would certainly be shock. I guess people would come around to it eventually but the first reaction would always always be "why on earth"??? (insert several excalamation marks here). I call that "shock". Perhaps thats a natural initial reaction? But I wish people would say "oh how nice, you must be thrilled, congrats" the way they would if one were to announce a pregnancy.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, thanks.

If it interests you, would you and n! and possibly mumbaigirl move any further discussion on adoption over to here?

anonymouse said...

Here's a graphic illustration of public transport scaling up better than cars.

As for the whole cars being inefficient point, just look at the history of transportation in the US. Roads were favoured over mass transit by public subsidies, and that changed the economics drastically.

As you built more roads, cars become faster to travel in, which leads to more cars on the road which leads to congestion. On the other hand, adding more cars makes buses more inefficient in terms of travel time, and even more people prefer to travel by car for comfort.

Perhaps Mrs. Pulpaade would care to link us to a study which proves otherwise?

If the city planners would care to look at this problem as an optimisation one, it would help. There is an upper bound on the roadspace you can add to a city.

The number of people to be transported is fixed (deviations are fairly small as compared to the number of commuters).

Given these two constraints, the only way to increase efficiency is to reduce the roadspace used per passenger.

A car occupies about 50 sq ft of space, and then you have to add an additonal 2 ft on each side as separation distance, which comes to about 84 sq ft. One car, at peak will carry 4 people.

A bus, OTOH, carries about 72 people (or more), but occupies about 300 sq ft of roadspace, including separation. So for four times the roadspace used, the bus carries 18 times more people, or an efficieny increase of 4.5.

If you were to make the assumption that all those people could travel by car, that's 18 cars or about 1500 sq ft of space (which can be occupied by another fast moving bus or two).

Having air-conditioned vehicles does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, increase energy efficieny or make rides comfortable.

Since Shashikant wants an economic incentive to use mass transit, why not just tax cars by the amount of roadspace they use? After all, that is the constraint on this optimisation problem. Given the land rates in Mumbai, an annual tax of 20000 INR/sq ft of car base area should work well for individuals, and the same rate monthly for corporates.

This blog article is a good comparison of mass transit in various US cities (note the comment about NYC near the end).