Before December 25, 2002, when the Delhi Metro made its maiden journey between Shahdara and Tis Hazari stations, an aging fleet of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and equally rickety but dangerous blueline buses were the only mass transit systems in Delhi. Those who could afford started buying cars and two-wheelers to drive to work. The expansion of the Metro network transformed the way people travelled in the city.
Ten years later, it’s yesterday once more. Despite 2.1 million passengers travelling in the Metro — which is bursting at the seams during peak hours — and higher number of buses carrying more passengers, more people have taken to driving their own vehicles.
Experts believe that unless there is a strong and integrated multi-modal transit system, it will be difficult for the government to achieve its target of bringing the ratio of public transport to private vehicles to a healthy 70:30.
They also say that there is a need for a system where people can walk or ride a bicycle or share an auto to reach the nearest Metro, monorail or bus station. “No system will be successful unless all independent systems work in tandem,” said Manfred Breithaupt, senior transport advisor with GIZ-SUTP, an international transport consultant body.
Integration of multi-modal transport systems not just means physical and network integration. Integration of fare systems and information sharing is really important. Delhi’s 190-km Metro network and more than 5,500 bus system work in isolation. The government is now talking about laying a monorail network and building ‘pod taxi’ system.
Last-mile connectivity should be the key, say experts. “People will continue to use private vehicles if there are no cheaper means of public transport available to reach Metro stations or bus stands,” said Ashok Bhattacharya, director, Unified Traffic and Transportation (Infrastructure and Planning) Centre (UTTIPEC). That is why, apart from advocating shared autos for the Capital, UTTIPEC is doing a project on multi-modal integration at Metro stations.
“We have taken up 68 stations. There will be proper space for walking and non-motorised vehicles. There will be no parking for private vehicles. DMRC will follow the same pattern at the rest of its stations,” Bhattacharya said.
Strong bus transit system is another mode experts have suggested. More than 140 cities in the world have BRT corridors. Delhi experimented with it but left it midway, fearing voters’ backlash, But many other Indian cities — mainly Tier-II cities such as Ahmedabad, Indore, Hubli-Dharwad — are experimenting with it.
“A quality public transport system is the best way to promote social cohesion. It is better to design routes in a way that travellers do not have to endure multiple transfers,” Lloyd Wright, Senior Transport Specialist, Asian Development Bank, told HT.