Visakhapatnam:Andhra Pradesh had a register of 70,000 motor vehicles as of March 2014. That number rose to 1.46 million vehicles by December 2021, representing more than 100% vehicle growth in just seven years.
In 2014, motorcycles accounted for 78% of the total fleet, while the share of two-wheelers exceeded 89% in 2021.
Of those 1.46 million vehicles, 1.29 million are non-transport vehicles used for personal purposes. According to experts, a combination of factors such as population growth, economic prosperity, less travel time and comfort, better access to finance, lack of public transport on desirable routes, etc. has led to an increase in the number of private vehicles.
This shift has placed significant strain on the transportation network and infrastructure, leading to traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, particularly in the urban parts of the state.
As the width of the streets in the cities of Andhra Pradesh has remained essentially the same, traffic congestion has become inevitable. Even if the automotive industry is considered one of the most important drivers of economic growth, the increasing use of private vehicles is at the expense of the environment.
Former rector and retired economics professor at Andhra University, Dr. M. Prasada Rao said infrastructure spending over the years has stimulated economic activity in the country in recent decades.
“Owning your own vehicle is seen as a gateway to this story of growth, liberation and economic prosperity. Increased personal mobility has completely changed the way society functioned and worked decades ago. Improving personal finances and affordability has also accelerated the adoption of personal vehicles. Urbanization and vehicle ownership always go hand in hand,” said Dr. rao
He added that the shift is particularly visible in the rural landscape.
“This is a very good trend as rural communities will benefit equally from the liberating technology of the automobile. Now we see farmers going to the fields or carrying a pile of grass on their two-wheelers in the villages. Because of this trend, women benefit equally. Personal vehicle penetration would be greater if fuel prices remain reasonably constant,” Rao added.
On the other hand, green activists say the government should find ways to tackle congestion and reduce pollution as vehicle growth is inevitable. They call for encouraging measures to increase the acceptance of electric vehicles.