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Delhi’s permanent traffic jam: Is there any relief in sight?

Despite years of discussions, planning and courts rapping agencies for inaction, experts are appalled that about 1,500 vehicles are registered in the Capital on a daily basis.

delhi Updated: Dec 15, 2016 12:32 IST
According to experts, increasing parking fees and restricting registration of personalised vehicles, especially SUVs,  should be implemented immediately.
According to experts, increasing parking fees and restricting registration of personalised vehicles, especially SUVs, should be implemented immediately. (HT Photo)

Nearly one crore vehicles ply on Delhi roads and the bad news is that the trend is showing no sign of abating.

Despite years of discussions, planning and courts rapping agencies for inaction, experts are appalled that about 1,500 vehicles are registered in the Capital on a daily basis.

“It is no surprise that the average travel time of a Delhiite has increased by more than two hours. As a short-term solution, the government should focus on improving last-mile connectivity,” said SP Singh of Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT), a think tank on transport issues.

With over one lakh e-rickshaws, 85,000 auto-rickshaws, and more than 50,000 gramin sewas and countless cycle rickshaws, last-mile connectivity in Delhi is a chaos as almost each one of them are running on parallel routes.

Even if travelling in the Metro is a breeze, stepping out of the station compels one to cringe for the want of a personal vehicle. Either the areas are overcrowded with a variety of three-wheelers and vendors, or there is absolutely nothing to travel back home, especially during late hours.

Read | No escaping Delhi traffic jams: Why city is spending double the time on roads

“All these intermediate transport modes need to be brought under one umbrella and there have to be rules. They must be promoted and organised in a way that would compel people to use them,” he said.

Studies suggest that nearly 45% people in Delhi travel six kilometres or less. In such a situation, just by tapping the ‘short trips’ of people, road congestion could be significantly dented.

Increasing parking fees and restricting registration of personalised vehicles, especially SUVs, is what experts say should be implemented immediately. Rampant encroachment is another problem as a major chunk of arterial roads have been taken by people to park their cars.

Experts say the problem also lies in urban planning. Slip roads and signages have not been properly designed, but there are bigger planning issues too.

Read | Capital chaos: Delhi’s traffic has slowed down and doubled time spent on roads

“Mega road projects are being taken up by authorities, but there is no curb on development along these roads. For example, the Outer Ring Road was conceptualised for decongesting the city’s traffic. Now the Eastern Peripheral Express and the RTR flyover have been planned which will be of no use if infrastructure development is allowed along the corridors as it would only attract more vehicles,” said Nalin Sinha, a transport and road safety consultant, who was previously with Initiative of Transportation and Development Programme (ITDP).

Welcoming Delhi government’s proposal to introduce 3,000 medium and mini buses, he said the move would make people avail public transport on narrower roads and would also take less transit space compared to the existing DTC low-floor buses.

The government says it has taken a number of steps towards decongesting the city. However, most of these projects have remained mere proposals due to the ongoing tussle with the lieutenant governor.

“We have designed a project for dedicated bus lanes in Delhi which is stuck because the L-G raised some objections. We also have plans to introduce mini-midi buses. The latest plan is to introduce more halt-and-go stands for auto-rickshaws in order to make roads less chaotic,” transport minister Satyendar Jain said.