Investing in roads helps upgrade human development

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Investing in roads helps upgrade human development

  • Investing in roads reduces travel time, increases economic output and helps upgrade human development.

Travel time

  • Cities contribute to economic productivity as they are labour markets.
  • Commuting time for the labour force to the workplace plays a very important role in determining their productivity in cities.
  • Travel time to work was slowest in Indian cities in 2016:
  • Bengaluru: slowest at 22 km per hour,
  • Delhi at 25 km per hour,
  • Chennai is the highest at 33 km per hour.
  • It continues to be long in post-pandemic cities which are fiscally stressed and facing the problem of potholes following heavy rains.
  • Longer the commute time in a city, smaller is its effective labour market and vice-versa.
  • To enlarge the city’s effective labour market and economic output, it is important to keep the commute time short and cheap.

Need for the shorter travel time

  • Micro perspective: For commuters who otherwise wastes time, health and productivity with the delays in traffic.
  • At macro level: city-level perspective, to enable a large effective labour market.
  • Road length has a positive effect on the city’s tax base.
  • Roads lead to easy access to jobs and increased economic activity; giving the public more confidence and motivation to pay taxes.

A priority

  • Urban local bodies (ULBs) can directly impact a city’s economic output through their infrastructure.
  • For every one km increase in road length of a ULB, there is an increase in the ULB’s own revenues by roughly ₹430 per capita.
  • Simple things such as fixing potholes and puddles on roads lead to significant reductions in travel time and should be an important city government priority.


  • Investing in roads not only reduces travel time and enlarges effective labour markets of cities and their economic output, but also improves access to schooling for children as well as healthcare, thereby upgrading human development.
  • This is indeed the road to the $5 trillion economy along with improvement in human well-being.