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Poor public transport behind Delhi vehicle boom, say experts

Experts said that if the number of these vehicles is not controlled then Delhi might soon meet the fate of Mexico City— the world’s most congested city where the average traffic moves 97% slower than a clear road situation.

delhi Updated: Dec 30, 2016 07:39 IST
Delhi traffic

Delhi is close to touching 10-million mark in total number of registered vehicles, shows latest Delhi government data.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

The spike in the number of private vehicles in the national capital in 2016 has rung the alarm bells among transport and urban planning experts. The annual data released by the Delhi government showed that the vehicles registered in Delhi this year have seen almost a 10% spike.

Experts said that if the number of these vehicles is not controlled then Delhi might soon meet the fate of Mexico City— the world’s most congested city where the average traffic moves 97% slower than a clear road situation.

Dr S Velmurugan, senior principal scientist at CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), said what the city needs is a strong vehicle registration policy. Any person buying more than one car should have to pay a higher registration fee, which should progressively increase with every new car.

“Out of the total 6,088 buses on a regular day only 3,850 buses effectively ply on the roads. Unless the government strengthens the public transport network, the dependence on private vehicles will keep spiking,” he said.

Velmurugan also said that on one hand the number of private vehicles in the city has gone up from 8.8 million to 9.7 million this year, on the other there has been a reduction in the share of public transport.

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

At present, public transport share on the Capital’s roads is only 65%.

Despite the fact that DTC buses still carry more people every day than Metro trains, the government has not been able to check the consistent decline in the number of public transport buses. Moreover, the government has been struggling to buy new buses.

The government has also not been able to fix the problem of last-mile connectivity because of which a lot of people are not able to use Metro services properly. It is also one of the reasons why the load on DTC buses has remained high despite the introduction and expansion of Metro network in the city.

“The feeder services do not run as feeders. They operate more as a complementary service instead of supplementary service. A well-connected and network will automatically encourage people to use these,” said Velmurugan.

Traffic and transport expert, Nalin Sinha agreed with the suggestion, pointing to another pivotal link in strengthening the public transport in the city — that of integration.

He said that the government should work towards integrating short distance services such as the battery-operated rickshaws and the gramin sewas.

Read: AAP govt proposes road-design cell to counter traffic woes; plan awaits L-G nod

“At present, there is no structure to these services and they operate individually. If they are integrated into one system, then the problem of last-mile and short-distance services will be solved. Private players should also be encouraged to ply mini bus services at per km cost,” Sinha said.

For example, in cities such as Geneva, a single body operates all the public transport modes. By purchasing a common pass commuters can use the trams, cabs, buses, trains, and even the lake boats.

In Zurich, a commuter can find a bus stop or a tram station at an interval of every 300 metres. At these stations, all the information and services including the next connections, a zone map, and ticket vending machines are available.

Sinha said that effective traffic management can also do wonders in controlling the city’s congestion. It is seen that 30-40% of the jams can be controlled by proper management of intersection, he said.

KK Kapila, chairperson of International Road Federation, said that the government can start will getting rid of old vehicles. Vehicular emissions contribute to around 25% of the city’s pollution according to a study by IIT-Kanpur. This is a cause of concern as data shows that in 2015, 6502 people died of respiratory diseases, making it the leading cause of death.

“Vehicles which have run up to a certain mileage should be either scraped or allowed to be sold outside the city,” he said.