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Traffic rationing: Rules other countries followed to cut pollution

Breathe delhi Updated: Dec 29, 2015 16:38 IST
HT Correspondent

In the past, 15 odd cities (mostly capitals) with serious air pollution issues, have tried the odd–even traffic rationing based on number plates. (File Photo)

The Delhi government announced on Friday that vehicles with odd and even number plates will ply on alternate days in the city from January 1, in an effort to curb rising pollution in the national capital.

In the past, 15 odd cities (mostly capitals) with serious air pollution issues, have tried the odd–even traffic rationing based on number plates.

While some cities saw genuine reduction in pollution levels, the policy has failed in many other cities, as citizens found a way to circumvent the rule by purchasing two cars with number plates ending with odd and even numbers - there by achieving the opposite.

Here is a low down of what happened in some of the cities when the restrictions were imposed.


Ahead of 2008 Olympics, Beijing imposed restrictions on private vehicles by allowing even and odd license plates to drive on alternate days. A Chinese government study placed the vehicle emission reduction at 40% post the policy implementation. Even though Beijing dropped the odd-even rationing policy after Olympics, following the success of it, more complicated road policies were introduced by the government.

Fine collected per violator: 200 Yuan


In March 2014, Paris introduced the odd-even rationing on its roads just for a day as an experiment. The experiment has been tried once before in 1997 and dropped similarly after a day. The restrictions were revoked after a day both the times because the officials had reached their pollution control goals and there was no need to continue the experiment.

Fine collected per violator: €22

Mexico City

In Mexico City the odd-even rationing policy a.k.a Hoy No Circula (’today it doesn’t circulate’) was introduced as early as 1989. Cars were banned for one day per week depending on the last number on their number plate. On Mondays five and six were banned, on Tuesdays seven and eight, etc. Even though initially there was a genuine reduction in pollution levels (a drop of 11%), people started circumventing the rule by buying two cars with odd and even numbers. Thus the policy failed in the city as finally it led to an increase in air pollution (rise of 13%).

Fine collected per violator: $23 - $69 (varies)


In Bogota, capital of Columbia, the policy was named Pico y Placa (’peak and plate’). It banned cars during the peak hours for two days per week. In order to make it harder for citizens to break the rule by buying two cars, the government kept on switching the combination of days and numbers every year. According to some reports, the policy failed to control pollution as many drivers chose to drive during off-peak hours thus rendering the government appointed peak hours as useless.

Fine collected per violator : Driving while the restriction incurs a fine equivalent to 15% of daily minimum wages (varies)

Europe’s Low Emission Zones

Europe decided to control emission in its capitals by declaring certain part of the cities as LEZs and banning vehicles which failed a particular standard from entering them. European capitals were divided in the decision to create LEZs. Some cities like London, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Lisbon, Rome, Copenhagen, Prague, Amsterdam, Milan introduced LEZs and allowed only vehicles that follow certain Euro standards inside the zones. While others like Zurich, Graz, Dublin, Luxembourg, Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona have either voted no for LEZs or have not yet taken a decision on the issue.

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Odd, even number cars on alternate days soon to cut pollution