Similarly, the number of cars in the city has also seen a sudden increase: Whereas, there were 61,422 cars in Vijayawada in 2016, in 2017, the number increased to 85,931, which is a 40% rise, compared to 9.72% in the previous year.
It’s not just non transport vehicles like cars and bikes, even vehicles used for transporting goods have seen a significant increase of 15%, from 94,259 in 2016 to 1,08,441 in 2017. Between 2015 and 2016, the increase was less than 10%.
This boom in the number of vehicles in the city is directly linked to the construction of the new Andhra capital Amaravati, say people in the transport department.
E Meera Prasad, Krishna district Deputy Transport Commissioner told TNM, “The shifting of the capital and the construction of the Secretariat has resulted in all-round development. This happened with transportation too. As a result, ownership of the vehicles has gone up.”
Speaking about non-transport vehicles, Meera Prasad said that since the land rates have increased in and around Vijayawada, people who sold off their land could have purchased vehicles.
The swelling strength of Vijayawada’s traffic is evident in the city’s chaotic traffic jams during peak hours. This is especially prominent on routes that lead to the capital city of Amaravati. The metropolitan areas of Guntur and Vijayawada are closest to Amaravati’s border.
While the bifurcation of the state in itself had undeniably created a buzz among the cities in Andhra Pradesh like Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s indication to shift his administrative base from Hyderabad to Amaravati might have also given impetus for the increase in the number of vehicles.
While transport vehicles include autorickshaws, goods carriages, school and college buses, cabs etc, non-transport vehicles include cars, motorbikes and tractor trailers, among others.
As of January 2016, transport officials in Vijayawada said that a total of 6,80,594 vehicles were plying the roads of the city. In the next year, this number increased to 9,86,870, which is an increase of 45%.
This figure is almost double that of 2010, just four years before the state’s bifurcation. In 2010, there were only 4,14,865 vehicles in the city.
However, there is a definite downside to the vehicle boom, say experts.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Vijayawada had the highest level of PM10 in the state with 110 µg/m³, as compared to 90 u µg/m³ in 2011.
The state’s Pollution Control Board (PCB) determines the Air Quality Index (AQI) of an area by breaking it down into PM2.5 and PM10 levels, where ‘PM’ stands for particulate matter, while the accompanying numbers give the size of these particles, which are measured in microns.
The standard values of PM 2.5 and PM 10 that are considered acceptable are 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³) respectively.
According to data from the Ambient Air Quality Station at MC Guest House in Vijayawada, as of last month, the air quality index parameters were crossing the standard values every day during peak traffic hours.
Urban development experts feel that a continuous check on the transport system and adopting alternative transport means can reduce the traffic chaos, while also keeping another major issue – pollution – in check.