Air ‘very poor’, standing travel allowed on Metro, public buses

According to a DDMA order issued by chief secretary Vijay Dev on Saturday, the Delhi Metro will be allowed to operate with 100% seating capacity and with up to 30 standing passengers in each coach.
Delhi has been in the throes of an air emergency, forcing agencies to scramble for solutions to bring down the city’s air quality index (AQI).(AP)
Delhi has been in the throes of an air emergency, forcing agencies to scramble for solutions to bring down the city’s air quality index (AQI).(AP)
Published on Nov 21, 2021 02:18 AM IST
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BySweta Goswami, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Saturday allowed the city’s buses and Metro trains to operate with limited standing passengers — a first since restrictions were put in place last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic — in a bid to push the use of public transport amid toxic air pollution levels in the Capital.

According to a DDMA order issued by chief secretary Vijay Dev on Saturday, the Delhi Metro will be allowed to operate with 100% seating capacity and with up to 30 standing passengers in each coach. In buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and under the cluster scheme, standing passengers will be allowed at up to 50% of the total seating capacity of each bus.

A senior transport official said this means every cluster bus which has 40 seats will now get to carry 60 passengers (40 seated passengers and 20 standing). In DTC buses, 53 passengers will be allowed per bus (35 seated and 18 standing passengers).

“This will be the first time when some relaxation has been given to allow standing passengers in buses and the metro in limited numbers so as to avoid overcrowding,” a senior transport official said.

Delhi has been in the throes of an air emergency, forcing agencies to scramble for solutions to bring down the city’s air quality index (AQI), which has hovered between the ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ zones for much of the week.

Delhi’s air quality remained in the upper reaches of the ‘very poor’ category on Saturday, improving marginally from Friday’s reading of 380, to touch 374 on Saturday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) daily 24-hour bulletin.

Dev, in Saturday’s DDMA order wrote: “Whereas, in view of the prevailing air pollution situation in Delhi, it has been felt to augment the carrying capacity of public transport system (buses/Delhi Metro) to minimise the use of private vehicles in order to improve ambient air quality of the city.”

According to the affidavit submitted by the Centre before the SC on Monday, the transport sector contributes 28% of the city’s PM2.5 levels during winter, and 24% of the PM10 levels.

Wind speeds to pick up today, says IMD

Agencies said pollutants are expected to disperse from Sunday, as wind speeds pick up, and touch 30 kilometres per hour in parts of the city on Monday

Delhi recorded a minimum temperature of 14.5 degrees Celsius on Saturday morning, two degrees above normal, and up sharply from 10.9°C on Friday morning.

The Indian weather office attributed this rise in mercury over the last 24 hours to a dense cloud formation on Friday night that it says took place due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal.

“There was a lot of moisture and with clouds, the minimum temperature at night does not fall too low. Northwesterly winds will start blowing once again towards Delhi from Sunday and while this tends to increase the stubble contribution, local surface winds will be good,” said RK Jenamani, scientist at the India Meteorological Department, adding that wind speeds could touch 15km/hr on Sunday afternoon, with surface winds between 20-30 km/hr blowing on Monday.

The contribution of farm fires to Delhi’s overall PM 2.5 concentration has seen a sharp drop over the last one week, with the share remaining low – at five percent on Saturday.

The order further said that in buses, boarding shall be allowed only from the rear door while de-boarding shall be allowed only from the front door. “The transport department, DTC as well as the DMRC shall be responsible for strict compliance of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour (viz social distancing, wearing of mask, use of hand sanitizer etc.) as well as relevant SOPs of the respective departments / authorities in this regard,” it stated.

When allowed to operate to its full capacity, including standing passengers, the DTC and cluster buses together carry about 4.2 million people a day, while the Metro carries about 2.3 million passengers.

Delhi currently has a fleet of a total of over 6,700 DTC and cluster buses. The city administration is planning to hire an additional 1,000 private buses to augment public transport.

(With inputs from Jasjeev Gandhiok)

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Saturday, November 27, 2021