Chennai

Driving by car from Chennai to Bangalore and back

Last Sunday I drove by car to Bengaluru from Chennai, and, returned today.

Yes, I know I am stupid to be self-driving (in India it means you are not having a driver, it is NOT autonomous driving) to Bangalore and back. Indeed it is tiring, travelling by train is a convenient, economical and faster way between the cities.

Driving, I realized:

1) That the rupees you pay for the highway tolls rise up faster than the total kilometres.

In every toll plaza, you queue for a minimum of 10 minutes. There are a total of 7 tolls from Chennai to Bangalore (or the reverse), including the Electronics City Express Flyover, cost a total of Rs.415 each way. For a distance of 340 Kilometers which you can cover in about 5 Hours at an average speed, you spend more than an hour and quarter on the toll plazas alone – they are designed to be inefficient, to say the least – crazy!

Let me clear, I am NOT against paying tolls. Anyone going on a car I suppose is NOT poor, so I am fine even to pay a bit more, that’s not my complaint. For the money that’s collected, treat me well, view me as a customer, make the process convenient and faster, offer me basic facilities in every toll plaza (like functional toilets and eateries). Out of the seven toll plazas, in only two I could spot a Toilet and use it.

Highway toll tickets - Chennai to Bangalore - Rs.415 in total
Highway toll tickets – Chennai to Bangalore – Rs.415 in total
Highway toll tickets - Bangalore to Chennai - Rs.415 in total
Highway toll tickets – Bangalore to Chennai – Rs.415 in total

2) The number of cars and trucks on highways have multiplied exponentially from what I remember a decade or two ago – so there is a lot of growth that happened in Auto Industry and trade 

3) SLOWER THAN BEFORE – In 2002-03, the civil architect who designed my office in T.Nagar, lived in Bangalore and travelled by car every week, it took him about 4:30 to 5 hours each time (I remember it well as he will call me when he starts from his house in BLR and will come directly to the site). In 2019, for me, it has taken 7 hours including two 15 minutes coffee/toilet break. So, an increase of 90 minutes from 2003, that’s not progress!

@Hon’ble Minister Sri Nitin Gadkari – For the attention of your department to come up with an innovative mechanism to make journeys like this easier for commuters across India. A friend suggested collecting tolls only in the “Exits”, have a token system that records entry and exit, like what’s followed in Airport parking or in Metro trains – I am sure the experts will have better ideas than this.

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