Every hour is peak hour in Delhi: Traffic 50%-60% slower, says CSE study
A study conducted on 13 arterial roads in the Capital by the Centre for Science and Environment has found that vehicles on these stretches are plying 50%-60% slower than the speed these roads were built for.Updated: Jul 11, 2017 11:47 IST
No matter what time you leave for work, chances are you will get stuck in the Capital’s traffic.
A study by the Centre for Science and Environment has found that “non-peak hours” have almost disappeared on Delhi’s main arterial roads, i.e., there is virtually no difference in travel time between peak and non-peak hours.
The month-long CSE study on travel time and traffic speed monitored 13 arterial roads for 12 hours daily. While the average morning and evening peak speeds were recorded at 28kmph and 25kmph, the off-peak speed remained restricted to 27kmph.
The analysis, which is based on data from Google Maps, shows that roads in Delhi are more congested on weekends, with an average peak speed of 25kmph, less than the weekday figure of 26kmph. It was found that vehicles are plying 50%-60% slower than the speed these roads were built for.
The 13 arterial roads that were part of the study included heavily congested ones such as Outer Ring Road; Swaroop Nagar to Wazirabad, Mahatma Gandhi Road (Ring Road); Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex to Majnu Ka Tilla and Sri Aurobindo Marg; Lado Sarai to Kidwai Nagar West. Arterial roads are primary networks that provide long-distance travel through multi-modal transport system connecting all major city-level land uses. They also facilitate inter-city and regional trips by connecting with highways and expressway networks.
The analysis was done on the basis of data taken from Google Maps that was noted for every hour from 8 am to 8 pm in June.
The study found that all the 13 selected arterial roads had an average peak speed of 26 km/hr, while the off-peak speed was recorded at 27 km/hr, which is 50%-60% lower than the design speed. These roads have been designed to achieve a driving speed of 50-70 km/hr as per the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) street design guidelines as well as Indian Road Congress guidelines for urban roads. The regulated speed is 40-55 km/hour.
It was also seen that during the 12 hours of the day, around 75% of the time, the average speed is 25-30 km/hr. About 17% of the time, it is 20-25 km/hr and only 8% of the day’s time was the speed more than 30 km/hr.
According to a 2010 report by RITES, the average peak speed in Delhi was 27.7 km/hr and off-peak was 30.8 km/hr — now, this has come down to 26 km/hr and 28 km/hr.
Weekends more congested
The analysis breaks the myth that Delhi’s roads have less traffic during weekends. The analysis says that the average peak speed noted during weekends on these roads is 25 km/hr which is lower than the weekday speed of 26 km/hr.
“This even drops to 8 km/hr on Sri Aurobindo Marg and 9 km/hr on Mehrauli-Badarpur road during peak hours. Evening peaks are worse during weekends — 21-23 km/hr in contrast to 25-27 km/hr on working days,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE.
While the average traffic speed on Saturday is 21 km/hour, on Sunday it improves slightly to 23 km/hour but remains still worse than weekdays, she added.
Lutyens’ roads less congested
The study states that the average traffic speed in Lutyen’s Zone, which has primary arterial roads with widths up to 50 meters, is considerably higher.
The average peak hour speed is 44 km/hr — almost 40% higher than on other arterial roads. The average off-peak speed is 52 km/hr, which is almost double that on other arterials. There is also a considerable difference between the average peak and off-peak speed.
Air pollution worsens with traffic
CSE also analysed hourly air quality data for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – largely influenced by traffic — for a selected day. It found that when the average morning peak speed of 28 km/hr drops to 25 km/hr in the evening, NO2 levels increase from 68 microgramme/cubic metre to 94 microgramme/cubic metre — an increase of 38%.
“This can get worse during winter when inversion builds up during evening,” Roychowdhury said.
Traffic from NCR cities
Most of the arterial roads are conduit for traffic from the neighboring NCR cities, the study states. Besides, there are some stretches that are chronically congested. On the stretch from Ambedkar Nagar to Lajpat Nagar on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, the average morning and evening peak speed was 16 km/hr and 17 km/hr.
“Speed can even drop to 5 km/hr during evening hours. On Sri Aurobindo Marg from Lado Sarai to Kidwai Nagar West, the average speed is 19 km/hr during the worst peak hours between 6 pm and 7 pm; during weekends it can drop to 7 km/hr,” she added.