CHENNAI: Ever since it was announced that the two-way system will be restored in Anna Salai, residents were a happy lot as they thought this will reduce their travel time by half. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened.
Heavy traffic congestion even during non-peak hours has made the commute along Anna Salai a nightmare for motorists. And the two-way system seems to be the root cause of this. These traffic jams start right from Gemini flyover because of which traffic moves at a snail's pace till the Greams Road junction. During peak hours, motorists said it takes a good 15 minutes just to reach the US consulate from Spencer's Plaza.
The Anna Salai, one of the main arterial roads of Chennai, was made one way in certain sections in 2012 due to the Metro Rail construction. Last month, the two way system was restored.
Now, many regular users feel one way system was better. “Earlier, I used to wait for four to five minutes at Nandanam, Kotturpuram and Pondu Bazaar signals. But now I wait for 10 to 15 minutes. The exponential growth in vehicles since 2012 must have been taken into account before bringing back the two-way system," said Deepa Seshadri, a resident of Saidapet, whose travel time from Egmore to Saidapet has increased by 20 minutes.
Traffic increases in interior areas:
Moreover, traffic spills onto inner roads in neighbouring Gopalapuram, Royapettah, Thousand Lights and Teynampet making heavy traffic snarls the norm in these residential areas too.
From 6.30 pm till 8.30 pm, Conran Smith Road and Thiru Vi Ka Road near Sathyam Cinemas have vehicles lined up one after the other till Avai Shanmugam Salai in Royapettah. Most times, there is no Traffic police regulating vehicles here. Similarly, General Patters Road is a mess too. Traffic jams spill over to even Arunachala Street, Gandhi Irwin Road in Egmore till Eldams Road in Teynampet.
"Residential roads have become inundated with traffic due to a steep increase in vehicle population. Metro Rail was introduced to tackle this very problem. Anna Salai was made two-way again as the metro is fucntional on this stretch. But people still choose other modes of transport over metro," said Sridhar Venkatraman, a civic activist and resident of Mylapore.
Bad roads, no bus shelters:
Traffic congestion on these routes is worsened by the poor conditions of roads. General Patters Road, Whites Road, Pattulas Road, Cathedral Road and beginning of Thiru Vi Ka Salai are a few examples.
The one kilometer stretch on Anna Salai which has been made two-way again, has not been leveled properly which results in a bumpy ride.
Though more than 250 buses ply via Anna Salai in more than 50 routes after the two-way system was restored, two important bus stops along this route do not have bus shelters. At any given time of the day more than 20 passengers are seen standing under the hot sun at Anand Theater and TVS stopping on Anna Salai.
"Opposite Ibis hotel on Anna Salai there is one bus shelter but this is hardly sufficient for the 20 plus people who wait for buses. We need one more shelter here. Outside Honda showroom there is no shelter
and people are forced to wait on the road. During peak hours we have hardly any space to stand," said Lakshmi, a regular commuter.
What are the solutions? With the metro rail operated under the Anna Salai, the solution may lie in encouraging people to take that. Ashwathy Dilip, senior program manager at Institute for Transportation
and Development Policy said, “If Anna Salai is made one-way again people will only want to commute by their vehicles as it's one of the widest roads in the city. The Metro Rail management must encourage
more people to choose the metro by introducing concessions, bringing down their fares and increasing last mile connectivity. This way traffic congestion will go down too.”