Cycle rickshaws are the lifeline of Dwarka — a ‘world class, zero-tolerance, self-contained sub-city’ that lies a mere 5 km-drive away from Indira Gandhi International Airport in southwest Delhi.The sprawling sub-city with a population of 6.5 lakh still does not have an effective, modern transport facility.
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) runs only a few buses here, and with have limited reach.
“You might wait for a bus for an hour, but there’s no guarantee of its showing up,” said Sector 19 resident Yashpal Sharma, general secretary of Akshardham Apartments’ residents welfare association.
The Dwarka-Yamuna Bank line of Delhi Metro is the only silver lining.
“While Metro rail has provided excellent connectivity with the rest of the city, moving between sectors remains a problem in Dwarka,” said Sujit Saha, a resident of DDA Flats in Sector 22.
Saha, accounts officer in an export firm, travels by Metro to his Janakpuri District Centre office everyday.
“It takes me just 20 minutes to reach Dwarka’s Sector 9 from my office, by Metro. But the rickshaw ride from the Metro station to my house sometimes takes 30 minutes, and costs me at least Rs 20,” said Saha.
Dwarka sub-city may offer unlimited housing choices but its poor internal transport makes life difficult for people who don’t own a vehicle.
“Even those who own cars need good public transport. I don’t like driving to neighbourhood markets and other places within the sub-city,” said Seema Sharma, resident of Sector 11.
In the absence of any motorised transport facility within the sub-city, residents are totally dependent on cycle-rickshaws.
From travelling between apartment blocks to going shopping in the neighbourhood, or even to the nearest Metro station, rickshaws are the only option available.
“Whether one needs to travel a few hundred metres in this scorching heat or go to the commercial complex 2-3 kilometres from the apartment block, rickshaws are the only means of transport,” said Jyoti Singhal, a Sector 22 resident. “But finding rickshaws after 8 pm, especially during winter, is difficult.”
Then, cycle-rickshaws are the most unsafe mode of transport and people travelling in them have often had their bags and chains snatched.
Problems like refusing to carry passengers, overcharging and bad behaviour, which are identified with auto-rickshaws in Delhi, are experienced with cycle-rickshaws in Dwarka sub-city.
No Bus ticket
For a population of about 6.5 lakh living in 25 sectors, Dwarka has only 34 buses plying on six routes that originate from its sectors.
Another 15 buses on three different routes pass through some sectors of the sub-city.
“Most of the buses are available in one part of Dwarka. Several sectors — 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 23 — do not have public transport at all. Even Metro’s feeder buses don’t service many sectors. Most of the people living in Dwarka are employees and need an effective public transport system,” said Yashpal Sharma.
Although some buses are available during rush hours for office staff, residents say their service is not reliable.
While most buses are available in the morning, residents said they were seldom available in the evening.
“Although DTC officials claim that there are another 100 buses on about 15 routes, those buses either originate in or connect localities like Palam, Manglapuri or Madhu Vihar, which are located in one corner of Dwarka. These areas lie 5-6 km away from Dwarka’s sectors,” said RK Singh, a Sector 4 resident.
Residents complained that Blueline buses do not ply in Dwarka, especially during the day.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation also runs 12 buses on two Metro feeder routes and has a proposal to run more buses on six routes already approved by the state transport authority.
“But that is not enough. We need a strong network of buses,” said Anil Nayal, member of the transport cell of Dwarka Forum, a residents’ body.
A DTC spokesperson, however, told HT, “We are expecting about 250 buses for Dwarka. Once we have the buses, the transport problem in Dwarka will be solved.”
‘New buses will be on the road next month’
(Verma spoke to Atul Mathur)
Dwarka was planned as a sub-city with its own independent transport network. But that plan seems to have fallen flat. Your comment?
We have planned a good transport network for Dwarka. It is just that the sub-city has grown suddenly in the last couple of years. Within our available resources, we are providing the best service that we can. There are around 150 DTC buses on different routes that either originate or pass through Dwarka. Blueline buses also ply on various routes. There is a Metro route, too, extended up to Dwarka, which caters to a large number of people. Nonetheless, mobility remains a problem there and we are working to improve public transport in the sub-city.
Sectors along the main Dwarka-Najafgarh road do have a semblance of bus service but the connectivity is terrible in sectors away from the road.
We have very few buses available right now. Para-transit system — mini buses, vans, autos etc — is also missing from Dwarka. That is why some inside sectors are poorly connected. As new low-floor buses join DTC’s fleet next month, the situation will improve.
Delhi Metro has become the lifeline of Dwarka. Although DMRC runs its feeder buses between Metro stations and different sectors, does DTC have similar plans?
Once we have more buses, we will be able to cover all the sectors. Those buses will not only connect sectors but also Metro stations with residential areas.
How do you propose to improve public transport in Dwarka?
We hope to have at least 250 more buses for Dwarka within the next four to six months. Our two new depots are ready in sectors 2 and 8, and a bus terminal has been set up in Sector 10. We have also proposed a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor in Dwarka, which will help us strengthen public transport in the sub-city. Apart from that, we have proposed a light rail transit (LRT) system for Dwarka. It is a Rs 9,000-crore project. We are examining the detailed project report. Metro, too, is being extended up to Sector 21.
Hour-long commute takes some spin off his shots
Tennis is Saumyarup Mukherjee’s first love.
The Class XI student has to commute about 3 km from his Sector 13 home to reach the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) sports complex in Sector 11. However, the half-hour ordeal leaves him drained even before he has hit the courts.
“Everyday, I spend more than an hour on travelling. Sometimes, my parents drop me off at the sports complex, but it takes a lot of effort to find a ride back home in the evening,” said the 15-year-old, an only son of a working couple.
In the absence of an effective transport facility, Mukherjee depends on rickety cycle-rickshaws. Every day, he ends up paying at least Rs 30 one-way.
Mukherjee said he would love to cycle down to the sports complex every day. “But it is not easy to balance on a bi-cycle with a heavy sports bag. It’s also risky, amid the fast-moving traffic.”
No bus means losing way to friends’ hearts, homes
Poor public transport has distanced Divya Khurana from her friends.
“My friends live in Sector 23. But we cannot visit each other often, as there is no bus service between our sectors. Rickshaws charge Rs 40 one-way, for the 2 km ride,” said the Sector 11 resident.
The Metro may be feted as Dwarka’s lifeline but it has not penetrated far enough to be of use to the entire population. In fact, the Metro ridership in the sub-city is pegged at only 20,000 per day.
Divya’s mother Jaya Khurana, a Delhi Jal Board employee, has to suffer for the lack of a good bus service everyday.
Since the Khuranas do not live close to a Metro station, they are entirely dependent on buses.
Khurana changes 2-3 buses just to reach the DJB office in Hari Nagar.
“There is no direct connectivity with west Delhi. I change three buses just to reach my office. While one bus takes me to Najafgarh Road, I change two more buses after that to reach my office,” said Khurana.
Khurana claimed she had to spend roughly Rs 2000 every month on conveyance alone.
Buses infrequent, radio frequency to the rescue
Sector 9 resident Rajni Mishra spent around Rs 4,000 as auto fare, last November.
A homemaker, Mishra was not rushing around the city all day. She merely needed to visit All India Institute of Medical Sciences a dozen times.
“I would have preferred to travel by bus, but we don’t have a reliable bus service to even important destinations like AIIMS,” said Mishra.
Although her husband Sanjay Mishra commutes to work in Hauz Khas by chartered bus, going late or coming back early poses a serious problem.
“It’s a choice between changing 2-3 buses or getting fleeced in autos,” said Sanjay Mishra, a Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited employee.
The Mishras now call a radio-taxi to go out together. “It is better to pay a radio-taxi than change buses or get into arguments with auto drivers. But it does affect our monthly budget,” they said.