Bangalore Traffic, you’ve made life miserable!

Today, I spent nearly six hours in the Hell that defines Bangalore traffic. Six hours.

It took me 3 hours to travel the distance of 27 kms from my home in south Bangalore to a spot in east Bangalore. It took me the same amount of time to get back home. You don’t even have to be good at Math to figure out how ridiculous that sounds.

Bangalore Traffic
Photo for representational purposes

I moved to this city in the summer of ’96. It was a brand new city for the 18-year-old me who was excited about college and exploring the garden capital of India. I fell in love with the weather here. I learnt to ride my scooter in this city, zipping through narrow lanes and wide roads in relatively traffic-free zones.

Love found me in this city. So did motherhood. Wonderful moments with family and friends fill my memories as I look back over the last 20 years in this place I call home.

Today, none of that mattered, as I sat fuming in a cab that literally inched its way through the nightmarish mess that was traffic. Both to and from the destination, the combined travel time added up to 6 hours and I shelled out more than a 1000/- on cab fare plus toll fees. In what universe does this sound logical?

People have asked me why I don’t opt for most events, lunches, meetings and conferences. Those living outside the city have remarked that I am lucky to stay in the same city as my parents since I can ‘see them any time’. Friends have wondered why I prefer not to attend lunches and brunches on weekdays or Saturdays. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you- Bangalore traffic.

Infrastructure that’s laughable

Our infrastructure is beyond pathetic. Our roads are literally falling apart after just one night of heavy rainfall. Pothole-ridden roads are more the norm than the exception. Narrow by-lanes are used by heavy trucks and tractors and make them non-motorable.

Public transport concerns

The Metro rail has very poor connectivity across the city. It works in small pockets here and there but doesn’t provide an overall solution. The Volvo buses are wonderful but where is the space on the roads for them? Ola and Uber cabs are ideal but today’s experience has made me wonder if I need to set aside a savings fund exclusively for travel within the city and that’s just sad, when you think about it.

Traffic rules

Traffic sense? Clearly, that’s just a term for people not living in the city. Nobody sticks to lanes. Pretty much everyone is in a tearing hurry all the time. Flaring tempers, raised voices, bumpers touching and rash drivers are enough to make you want to stay home. Forever.

I work from home and today, that seems like the most sane decision ever. But it shouldn’t have to be! Not everyone can work from home. It doesn’t make practical sense. So we have people commuting 3 hours one way to get to work and spend 8 hours there and then spend another 3 hours to get back home. What kind of a life is this?

And it’s not just me thinking this way. People close to me have been frustrated with the traffic conditions and opted to live closer to work and away from their families, just to beat the traffic. I thought it was a one-off thing but turns out there are many families in the city doing this. It’s the only sensible thing, given the circumstances.

The other option is large gated communities where we have everything from schools to offices to malls and multiplexes within walking distance. But, that still doesn’t mean that we’d escape traffic. I agree that we are part of the problem but what is the solution?

Right now, the only thing this city has going for it is the weather. That may not be enough though, a few years from now, to keep people here.

You want to know the best part? Google told me I could have walked the entire 27 kms today in 5 hours and 25 minutes. I should have done that and saved 35 minutes off my day.

19 thoughts on “Bangalore Traffic, you’ve made life miserable!

  1. Tell me about it! I moved here in 2009 and I immediately fell in love with the charming, clean, pleasant city. The traffic issues came in a few years later, with more and more offices being set up around ORR and since then it’s only grown worse.
    I bet if the metro system was better connected, a lot the issues would be fixed.
    As for the weather – nope, not the same. I remember shivering on cold mornings even in summer but now I sweat in December instead.
    A few days ago, I think on the same day that you wrote this, I had some work in koramangala. It took me 2 hours and 10 mins to get to Bellandur. I had bizarre day dreams about turning into a mass murderer as I waited.

  2. We have traffic jams in Mumbai but it is not so bad as what you have written here. And the public transport is quite robust. I completely rely on it. Just last week I covered a distance of about 25+ km in an hour by auto-rickshaw. But listening to you, I am glad and thankful I did not meet the traffic chaos when I was there few times. But, now I will empathise more with my Bangalore colleagues.

  3. The lesser said about the traffic the better. Sajapur road is another nightmare. The problem is we are just too many ppl. We are growing at a much faster rate than the rate at which our resources and infrastructure is growing .

  4. oh wow. I see tweets all the time, but this is just ridiculous. So sorry! Sitting in traffic drains me and I can only imagine how hard doing this day in and day out for many would be..

  5. Oh yes, that traffic can be a real pain. It is only so in my city during peak hours or during festivals, when people are suggested to not take their private vehicles to go out. These are times we really wish we could fly, or like Mithila said, wish portkeys and broomsticks were available in the muggle world.

  6. I completely empathize with you. Just like you l avoid going out of the house missing those meets and events because of the traffic. It’s a nightmare. I am lucky to be freelancing from home. I can’t believe what the powers in the government are doing to the city. By this time we should have had a Metro covering the entire city. It’s just so frustrating. Not that it is better in other cities. Mumbai is very congested too but at least you can take trains even if they are Jan packed. It just shows that our cities are reeling under. Our quality of lives is severely impacted.

  7. The pain is real. It’s no longer just an inconvinience. It’s becoming a health hazard. Takes about an hour and half every day to get to office and same to get back. It drove me crazy. Now, i try my best to hldeal with it. Music, reading or something like that .

  8. 15 km in 2 hrs… add one more hour if it rained. I was spendin my life either in offc or bus while working in blore… I can understand how extremely frustrating it must be for you to waste all that time. It’s rridiculou… Also saddens me to see such a lovely city deteriorating every passing day. Bangalore traffic had made me fear any long distance travel to office. It took me a while after coming here to realize that distance doesn’t matter. I travel 40 km one way in one hour to the offc. I hope someday the charm of the city will be restored.

  9. Uff this is just terrible. I’ve heard of Bangalore traffic and can only sympathise. It must be worse for the children. Pune is not that bad yet but we’re getting there. It’s such a criminal waste of time.

  10. Sigh. I am not surprised at all Shailaja, this was one of the reasons why I hardly ventured out of home when in Bangalore. Hugs and hope things improve soon!

  11. Gosh! This is horrible and I hear you. I have many stories and the most recent one is from last week. My godchild was in day-care and her Mum and Dad were stuck in traffic, diverted roads, one ways and what not. We got a call to pick the 1.5yo up. The place was hardly two km and we had to get her home. So, that’s 4. The time that we spent in the car was 2 hours. We could have walked and got the little girl home if it wasn’t raining. The condition is pathetic.

  12. I have lived in Mumbai for 25 years, so I understand traffic, but this is just ridiculous. In Mumbai, there is at-least the public transportation system that comes to our rescue (thought it also means a free body massage).

    Having said that, why did you not carry a book/kindle/audio-book? I always do. Always. It keeps me from boiling over the delay. 🙂

  13. I have been Bangalore for a very short period of three months but has seen the ugly face of its traffic. Your post just brought back all those memories! You said it right, weather is not enough to keep people there! 🙁

  14. Well, I hear you, sister…I don’t feel like going out for these precise reasons…but you know what, public transport here is much better than many other cities but again that’s not good enough if traffic conditions are so bad

  15. Hi! I have had three scary and near-miss experiences in Bangalore while trying to negotiate traffic. I have missed trains and just saved myself from missing a flight which thankfully got delayed. The fact that I covered 3 kms in 45 mins still remains with me. It is indeed scary that people spend 3 hours commuting one way. Frayed nerves are only natural, I think, given the amount of frustration being gridlocked manufactures. It is only a matter of time before Bangalore becomes completely unlivable, which is actually sad for a city which was once the most preferred destination.

  16. All my life that I lived in Delhi and worked in Gurgaon, I covered 40 kms one way and it took a hell lot of a commuting time. Then I shifted to Bangalore one and a half years ago and got to know that here commuting 15 kms in peak office hours takes the same time as those 40 kms. Unending traffic woes.

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