Manic Wednesday: Multiple reasons, including high post-bandh IT staff turnout, led to traffic nightmare in Bengaluru

The traffic jam was so bad that it took four hours to cover 15 km; parents were left worried as many students reached home late.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Sep 28, 2023 | 8:58 PMUpdatedSep 28, 2023 | 8:58 PM

Bengaluru ORR IT Corridor Silicon City Traffic Snarl Jam

A massive, unprecedented gridlock on Bengaluru city’s tech corridor, the Outer Ring Road (ORR), left Bengalurians fuming on Wednesday, 27 September, evening.

A combination of factors — from a long weekend, an increase in vehicle population, bad roads, ongoing Metro rail construction, and rain — contributed to the traffic snarl. Another reason the police pointed out was that more than 90 percent of IT employees attended work.

Several motorists complained that they took about four hours to cover 15 km. Parents were worried as students, stuck in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, reached home late in the night.

Multiple factors led to traffic block: Police

Traffic Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP)-East Kuldeep Kumar Jain attributed the massive traffic jam on ORR to the high attendance of IT employees in offices, the increase in the number of vehicles, ongoing metro construction, and pathetic roads.

“It was a hectic and challenging day for the entire traffic police personnel on Wednesday. We had never witnessed such a huge traffic snarl. This is a normal phenomenon in the region but this was the first time such a huge traffic jam occurred,” he told South First.

“Traffic was double the normal due to the increase in the number of vehicles because of the long weekend. Several people took the ORR to exit the city. More than 90 percent of IT employees turned up for work a day after the Bengaluru bandh and exited the office around the same time,” the officer further said.

Jain added that rains that lashed the city led to waterlogging in several interior roads. The ongoing Metro rail work has occupied half of the road’s width between Baiyyappanahalli and KR Puram. The stretch has been witnessing traffic snarl almost daily.

“The pathetic condition of roads dotted with potholes also hindered the flow of traffic,” he added.

Widespread anger, but also a pizza moment

Even as thousands of people were caught in the traffic snarl, a motorist ordered a pizza, and the nearest Dominos outlet delivered it promptly to his car on the ORR.

IT employee Rishivaths later shared his “pizza moment” on X. Several netizens lauded the delivery boy’s professionalism.

Also read: ‘One-way’ Saleem to clear Bengaluru’s traffic mess

Roads in Sarjapur, Whitefield, Eco Space, Krishnarajapuram (KR Puram), Marathahalli, and Varthur — where several hundreds of IT and ITeS firms are located — remained clogged with vehicles for hours. Employees of these firms had a bitter taste of Bengaluru’s dreaded traffic block.

Incidentally, Amsterdam, the Netherlands-based mapping and location technology provider TomTom had ranked Bengaluru second among the most congested cities in the world in 2022.

Netizens vented their anger in cyberspace and demanded the government act swiftly to resolve the traffic problems in the IT corridor.

Few others also urged the state government to launch the much-awaited metro rail services between Baiyyappanahalli and KR Puram to decongest traffic.

Inspector Raghavendra of Whitefield Traffic Police Station said the traffic block continued for about six hours. “It was a tough and challenging day. It took us at least six hours to clear the traffic on ORR, Varthur, and Whitefield. The entire region was jampacked with vehicles.”

The roads became chock-a-block with honking vehicles around 4 pm, and they cleared only after 11.30 pm. “The Varthur road is a state highway, and many heavy vehicles take this road. This is the first time in seven months of my service in Whitefield that I have witnessed such a massive traffic snarl,” a relieved Raghavendra said.

Both officers said there were not many vehicle breakdowns, barring a couple, or accidents during the traffic congestion.

Also read: Karnataka bandh likely to affect transport, schools and businesses on 29 September

Govt should act: Netizens

Social media was abuzz with the news of the traffic jam as netizens kept posting the updates.

IT employee Avinash A said it took him an hour to cover 2 km.

“Another blockade in front of the Intel office. We didn’t move an inch for 20 mins. Another 10 mins in front of Eco Space. 1 hour to travel less than 2 kms,” he posted on X.

Girish Alva was frustrated when he took to X. “Enduring a 5-hour drive for just 15kms on ORR is incredibly frustrating. The traffic situation in Bengaluru has deteriorated much beyond the pre-Covid gridlock. Is the government interested in looking beyond guarantee schemes,” he asked.

Another user, Archana Bhatnagar, was appalled by the absence of proper traffic management. She called out the authorities’ callousness in tackling the issue.

Aarian Capital Co-founder and Chairman TV Mohandas Pai couldn’t help questioning Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. “Sir, how long should people suffer,” he asked after the police had issued an advisory to IT companies.

Also read: 163 traffic junctions to be upgraded with AI-based adaptive signal

Expert bats for public transport

Mobility experts said preferring public transport to private vehicles is the only way to resolve the traffic woes of India’s IT capital.

“The number of private vehicle owners is high. Lots of people working in IT companies in and around ORR have their vehicles. Lot more vehicles came on ORR than expected on Wednesday,” Citizens of Bengaluru co-founder and activist Srinivas Alavilli told South First.

“Public transport is the only solution to address traffic snarls. The priorities of local authorities also matter because they need to improve the infrastructure properly and wisely by developing urgent requirements, such as bridges,” he pointed out.

“Once the Metro’s Yellow and Purple lines are fully operational, the vehicular traffic is likely to come down on ORR. The metro rail service between KR Puram and  Baiyyappanahalli should begin at the earliest. The traffic police must take necessary initiatives such as advising to change office timings to address traffic snarls in the IT corridor,” Alavilli opined.

He added that his organisation is campaigning to encourage people to use public transport instead of personal vehicles.

“Just a friendly reminder that traffic jams are not created by traffic police or buses. We, the people create traffic,” he said on X.

“Out of one crore vehicles on city rods, only 6,500 are @BMTC_Bengaluru buses,” he pointed out, adding that Wednesday’s block could have been avoided if at least 25 percent of car owners had opted to travel by bus.

Meanwhile, DCP Jain said the police are in talks with IT firms. “We are in talks with the IT companies on office timings. We need to give staggered timings for IT companies and ensure that they adhere to it. Most of the IT employees have vehicles at their disposal,” he said.

The officer expressed confidence that the traffic situation would improve once the Metro operation begin between KR Puram and  Baiyappanahalli.