Travelling to work in a city like Delhi is a major concern. Every morning, countless people can be seen making their way to the office. Take my example: I live in west Delhi and make my way to Gurugram every morning via the metro. Taking a cab does no good as traffic tends to crawl like a snail in the morning. This is perhaps because the use of personal vehicles to travel to work has increased significantly. Moreover, the metro is no less crowded and a journey spanning across 40 stations takes nearly a couple of hours.
Looking at the extent of congestion on roads, I don’t think there’s much of a difference between travelling between peak and non-peak hours in a city like Delhi, as roads remain choked throughout the day. Increase in congestion has forced several commuters to spend twice as much time on roads.
The metro is much faster than cars and buses, as a typical road in Delhi is characterized by mixed traffic including the likes of human-powered vehicles (cycles and rickshaws), animal-driven carts, and motorized vehicles. A multitude of vehicles being driven simultaneously adds significantly to the entire problem.
Cabs take a lot of time during peak hours when traffic is at its heights. Travelling home after work is a task, a real task, as a mere 15 minute long stretch from Janak Puri (West) Metro station to Paschim Vihar takes close to 45 minutes to cover during the evening.
What is quite obvious is the significant rise in air pollution. All of us encountered the thick smog as it engulfed Delhi and hindered visibility levels. What’s more, traffic is higher during weekends as people tend to take their vehicles in order to hang out with their families. Studies further throw light on the fact that the average speed of vehicles during weekends in Delhi is 25 km/hr, which is marginally lesser than the average speed during weekdays, which is 26 km/hr.
A major problem is the lack of infrastructure. The fact that the provision of transport infrastructure hasn’t been in tandem with the increasing demand for transport services has forced people to use personal vehicles to commute. Well, I believe no one, including the town planners, could predict Delhi’s rise as a metropolitan city. They forgot to construct adequate commercial spaces to meet the professional requirements of the citizens, i.e., constructing commercial spaces closer to residential areas.
For more than a decade now, people have been commuting to commercial hubs such as Connaught Place and Central Secretariat. Further, with the emergence of commercial suburbs such as Noida and Gurugram, the distances just kept on increasing by leaps and bounds. Despite the growth of the metro, the public transport system in Delhi is inadequate to cater to the ever-increasing number of commuters.
Many might disagree, but to say that the much publicised ‘Odd-Even’ initiative undertaken by the Delhi Government was a major success in a bid to reduce pollution and congestion certainly won’t be a hyperbole. There are close to 10 million vehicles on Delhi’s roads. The number is bound to increase further as Delhi witnesses an influx of vehicles, including trucks, from other states as well.
One small bit to avoid unnecessary congestion is by going easy on the brakes. Hitting your brakes frequently can disrupt the smooth flow of traffic as the drivers behind you tend to replicate your movement. This can slow everybody down and can make congestion worse. Secondly, one can always use carpooling (I do that whenever I take an Ola or an Uber). It’s quite easy on the pocket, plus, you always have someone to talk to. And then comes public transport. You can always take the metro if you’re covering a shorter route. Finding a seat might just be an issue, but you can always put-on your earphones and enjoy the ride.
Government regulations and pollution control measures are there in place. Before amending them, we need to ascertain if those regulations are being followed appropriately. It’s not about coming out with new laws, it has more to do with the existing laws being adhered to.