Road Trip

One of the best things I did these holidays was to take a day long road trip via the famed East Coast Road from Chennai to Pondicherry. The drive was beautiful for reasons other than the sea and the clean air. The road was clean, bump free and the traffic (though reasonably heavy) moved effortlessly.

ECR is one of the few Indian roads that has put to use the principle of pay-and-use despite being a national highway. The 320 kms long stretch has three toll stops along the way. Private management of this road illustrates beautifully the principle of the tragedy of the commons in a positive manner. Take the state managed Delhi-Jaipur highway which makes a luxury Volvox coach traveler bump along merrily and then take a look at the ECR. The ECR is managed by a private Italian road management company in tandem with the government.

The good news is that a longer ECR is being built along the same lines– project officers say that the popularity of the ECR has made the toll rates fall steadily over the years. This webpage explains why the creative privatisation of roads might be a good idea.