Traffic jams, jam-packed roads and cycle rickshaws running helter-skelter – all seemed like a thing from the past on the Chandni Chowk main road. The CNG bus service became fully functional on Monday and replaced cycle rickshaws, Old Delhi’s traditional form of transport. The environment-friendly bus service charged a flat fare of Rs 5. For women, there was a ‘Ladies’ Special’ bus – its frequency may be increased if the service draws a good response.
Initial reactions from commuters and shopkeepers were positive. Narendra Kumar, a salesman at a garment store said, “The road is clear now and footpaths are not crowded anymore. This is going to give a huge boost to our business.”
The initial fears of shopkeepers, on how they would get their goods, were laid to rest as the government has allowed small-motorised goods carriers between 2 pm to 4 pm.
The main Chandni Chowk road now is clear of traffic snarls.
Earlier it would take at least 30 minutes to cover that stretch. “Today, it took me barely five minutes to reach my shop. The traffic is flowing smoothly and driving has become much easier,” said businessman Anmeet Singh.
Commuters are also satisfied, but many feel the frequency of buses should be increased. Vikas Sharma (68) said, “The buses are too crowded and their stoppage time is less.”
Neelam Ghosh (25) said she waited for over 10 minutes at Digambar Jain Mandir opposite Red Fort but could not find a bus to reach the MCD office at Town Hall. “There were five buses on the opposite carriageway, but not even one going towards Fatehpuri. Instead of doing away with rickshaws completely, the government should have regulated their numbers,” said Ghosh.
MCD Deputy Commissioner (City Zone) Dr Vijay Singh said the number of buses would be increased to 30. “We are assessing the situation and will work on suggestions and feedback from passengers. We will demarcate bus lanes and also increase bus stops,” he said.
Bus drivers had a hard time finding parking space and got into a minor tussle with Phat-Phat Sewa drivers who claimed the space was theirs.
The MCD also continued confiscating illegal cycle rickshaws and hand driven carts. Meanwhile rickshaw pullers organised a protest in Chandni Chowk. They demanded new routes to run their rickshaws as they feel that they have been given no alternatives.