Long road ahead for Andheri automated driving test track

Pune and Baramati already have automated tracks, but the authorities seem to have abandoned the plan for the city’s first such track, which was supposed to come up in 2013

The state transport department lauding the apparent improvement in checks on the rampant issuance of driving licenses in Pune and Baramati, due to the automated driving test tracks that have come up at these cities.

This is where the automated test track is supposed to come up at the Andheri RTO
This is where the automated test track is supposed to come up at the Andheri RTO

But Mumbai is still waiting for its first automated driving test track, which was supposed to have come up in Andheri two years ago. The temporary test track that was to be set up at Malwani (Malad) has also not come up yet. The Andheri Regional Transport Office (RTO) is not a pretty sight at the moment.

The authorities have cordoned off the portion of land where the track is supposed to come up, with yellow sheets. This barricade has eaten into the land where driving tests are currently conducted, and restricted the parking space for auto rickshaws and other vehicles which go there for tests.

Sources said that as per the plan, the Andheri RTO was to get the first automated test driving track on its five-acre plot along with the new building that was built in 2013. Moreover, an underground parking lot meant to accommodate more than 1,500 vehicles was to be developed. However these works got stuck after the developer faced corruption charges.

No human intervention
“The automated driving track is supposed to be completely free of human intervention. It has CCTVs and uses computerised technologies to monitor the driving of any person coming here for a permanent license,” said an RTO official, on condition of anonymity.

The cemented test track is supposed to have bumps, breakers, sharp turns and other tests that would have determined the quality of driving. “Currently, all those coming to get driving licenses at RTOs, get them with ease. However, at Pune and Baramati, where the automated driving test tracks have been set up, there are at least 40 per cent who fail,” said Mahesh Zagade, state transport commissioner.

The automated driving test tracks were started in Pune and Baramati only a month back. Presently, corruption is rampant at RTOs and licenses are handed out even for inefficient driving. Lack of proper driving skills is one of the major reasons behind the thousand of road accidents that take place across the state.

In 2014, Maharashtra saw a total of 61,511 accidents, which killed 12,691 people. Mumbai alone accounted for 22,554 accidents and 527 deaths. Even the plan for the much-required parking lot that would have been a three-storey underground structure seems to be in cold storage.

The underground parking lot was to connect the road next to the Andheri RTO. Thousands of vehicles travel to nearby areas of Lokhandwala, Laxmi Industrial Estate and other commercial complexes on this route, apart from the traffic generated by the shopping malls and theatres at this junction.

The parking space created by this underground lot would have greatly helped to ease the traffic snarls in this area, in addition to helping the 5,000 visitors the Andheri RTO office receives on a daily basis. The overall cost of redeveloping Andheri RTO was estimated at Rs 15.52 crore.

The temporary test track at Malwani was to be developed on a three-acre plot. Meanwhile, the new Borivli RTO, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, will cater to areas between Goregaon and Dahisar. Vehicles registering there will have the number prefix MH-47.

Rs 15.52 crore
Cost of redeveloping Andheri RTO

5,000
No of daily visitors at the RTO

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