During the 15-day trial period of its odd-even car formula starting January 1, the Delhi government will double the number of buses on city roads to 12,000 and create dedicated lanes for them so that car-owners can fall back on public transport.
It also plans to re-launch its mobile app for autorickshaws, PoochO, while allowing autos in the city to be driven by two drivers for added connectivity. In addition, the Metro will run at peak frequency between 8am and 8pm, during which the odd-even restrictions will be in place.
Spelling out the details of its ambitious plan to clear the city’s severely polluted air, the AAP government was, however, silent on whether there would be exemptions for women and VIPs.
It said on Thursday that it would be hiring 4,000 buses from private bus operators, whom it had already spoken to. Schools across the city agreed to rent out an additional 2,000 buses to the government to ply between January 1 and 15. On these 2,000 schools buses, 50% of the seats would be reserved for women.
“With the new initiative, the number of buses on Delhi roads will jump to 12,000 for the 15 days the odd-even restrictions are in place. For the extra 6,000 buses, drivers will be provided by the owners while the conductors will come from the Delhi Transport Corporation, which will also decide the routes,” Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai said.
Dedicated bus lanes, like the ones created for the Commonwealth Games, will be brought into force. Bus-lane marking will be completed by December 25 and those obstructing the way of buses during the trial period will be penalized.
For these 15 days, the government will make an exception to the rule that allows only a permit-holder of an auto to drive it. Instead, each auto driver will be allowed to let a second person also operate the vehicle — a move it believes will increase the availability of autos by 100%.
“We also plan to re-launch the PoochO mobile application for autos. A meeting with auto and taxi unions is fixed for Friday where we will discuss the app model. We are working towards a platform where even drivers without smart phones will be able to use this platform,” said Rai.
PoochO was launched by the government in 2014 but never took off, while similar models such as Ola and Uber became a hit with commuters.
In addition to ensuring peak Metro frequency, the government is in talks with the Northern Railways to increase the number of daily trips from NCR towns to Delhi and back.
The odd-even car formula hinges almost entirely on a robust public transport system, something the city is clearly lacking.