A majority of Gurgaon residents prefer to idle in hour-long snarls, as evinced by the increasing number of private vehicles, than fight for space in the city’s infamous public transport network.
A second look at the city’s public transport options may force one to take sides with the residents.
Gurgaon’s mass public transport system, comprising Haryana Roadways buses, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) yellow line and the Rapid Metro Rail, is no match for the city’s swelling population.
Residents say they would rather use the abundant private transport options than board a tattered Haryana Roadways bus or a suffocating metro train.
“The condition of the buses needs to be improved. The government cannot expect the people to leave private transport without fulfilling our demands. There is a lot of infrastructure work that needs to be undertaken in Gurgaon if we want to reduce snarls,” Rohit Raheja of South City 1 said.
Residents say that they cannot fully rely on the Delhi Metro because of overcrowding and restricted connectivity. The Rapid Metro, meanwhile, has failed to generate a mass appeal almost three years after its inception.
“The metro lines cover only parts of Gurgaon. If one wants to travel to places far from the metro station, one has to take an autorickshaw or a bus, both of which are unsafe,” Yohima Singh of Sushant Lok said.
Even the metro rail cannot promise a safe commute. Some women have complained of stalkers in the metro. There were also cases when drunk men have intruded into the women’s compartment.
“I was travelling on the Delhi Metro around 11 pm. I was coming from New Delhi railway station. Four men were following me and passing lewd comments. When I tried changing the train, they also got off,” Anushka Singh (name changed), said.
The environment around metro stations further aggravates the fears of women. The station premises are poorly lit and the police presence is scanty.
“While inside the metro station, we can complain to the CISF guards, what do we do once we step out? The area around the stations is dark and a few liquor shops have also sprung up near some stations,” Kriti Singh of DLF said.
Even if the city had a good public transport network, one of the major impediments in using it will be Gurgaon’s near non-existent last-mile connectivity options. Autorickshaws and shared autos that are usually used for short trips are unregulated. These vehicles do not have fare meters and the rate depends on the mood of the driver.
When it comes to safety of women travelling by autorickshaws, there is no dearth of horror stories. Women often complain of being touched inappropriately or being ogled at by co-passengers in shared autos. The pink autos — women only autos — have not been a success either, primarily because the drivers are men.
“Around a year ago, when I was travelling in a shared auto, I did not expect a man to simply put his hands around my shoulder. It was a horrific experience and I haven’t dared to travel by the rickshaw after that,” Saloni Diwan (name changed) of Sector 15 said.
Despite several modes of private transportation being available in the city, none of these are regularised.
Assistant secretary, RTA, Bharat Bhushan said, “We conduct regular inspections of buses and other modes of transport to ensure the overall safety. Other concerns, including missing fare metres in autos are on the priority list.”