Traffic congestion is here to stay
In spite of all the efforts to encourage a shift to more sustainable modes of transport , traffic congestion remains the main topic of debate when discussing mobility.
The demand for cars has increased significantly in the last five years. According to National Office Statistics, there was an increase of 8 per cent in private car ownerships between the first three months of 2016 and the first three months of this year. In the last three years over 40,000 new cars were registered. There are approximately 388,000 vehicles on the roads in these islands.
Faced with this barrage of cars, one government after the other has tried to better citizen’s mobility. There were measures that focused on the construction of new roads and today, the government of the day is focused on widening existing roads and cutting down trees – a project that has not been received well by a section of the population. Other initiatives have encouraged the public to switch to alternative modes of transport including using public transport, cycling, using electric motorbikes and walking.
To address the challenge of traffic congestion we need an integrated transport policy that takes various factors into account. It is clear that the development of alternatives to driving that are attractive, affordable, comfortable and reliable are indispensable. Revisions and on going reforms and updating of policies are also needed as their impact can become negligible over time. Therefore, we need a plan that is dynamic.
Having said this, traffic congestion in the middle of the day in almost all the main thoroughfares is here to stay. In fact, I dare say that it will get worse in years to come if the population keeps growing, especially given the presence of foreign workers. This, in spite of the policies created by government and the private sector to address congestion.
I believe that new technologies and smart solutions are the future, but they will require a significant investment that Government, whoever it may be, has to face.
For now, the only relief for those who get stuck in traffic is having a comfortable air conditioned car with a good stereo, a hands-free phone and a passenger for company!
People need to be able to travel to get to work. The question is how are they going to do this and how much time will they have to waste to get to their destination?
Congestion has become a fact of life, eating into one’s free time and, unfortunately, it is here to stay for the time being.