City travel, with reference to Delhi and NCR, is certainly not something that anyone, who has encountered it on a daily basis, can appreciate. And this has particularly to do with the fact that public transport of the city is deplorable. Delhi Metro continues to wage a grim battle to balance the travel load of the city. They are successful to a large extent since they have a dedicated corridor manned by an extremely efficient set of people that man its routes on a second-by-second basis. The other mass transport means like buses, (low floor or otherwise) use the carriageway, which troublingly, is shared with personal modes of transport. Cabs, taxis, rickshaws, autorickshaws cannot realistically be called public modes of transport in the sense that buses can, simply because they occupy the same road space that personal modes of transport do without offering any compensating advantage, except that of paid comfort and the knowledge that they can reach right up to the doorstep of their destination.
There are many classes of people who travel the Delhi roads. Early in the morning, newspaper vendors, bread and milk vans and school students make the travel. Those who need to take the early trains and early flighters also make the journey. Shift duty personnel are another groups of people who travel. Cabs, DTC buses, taxis, personal vehicles like cars, motor cycles, mopeds, scooters, rickshaws and cycles get on the road.
Mid morning sees the college and office goers join the jam. More private cars, public transport vehicles, chartered buses, rickshaws, cabs, motor bikes, scooters and cycles clog the system. Late mornings are the times for the foot soldiers of the economy to tramp the streets. Labourers, Salespersons, Insurance agents, courier ‘boys’, FMCG carriers, and the lakhs of assorted tradespeople are on the roads. This is the “max brunt” period for the roads. Government offices that have public dealings, utility offices etc. get visited the most in this period of the day.
By mid afternoon, school children are on their way back. Public dealings in government offices are almost over. There are comparatively fewer public mass transport vehicles on the road. This lull is broken by around early to mid evening, when the rush to get back home begins in earnest. Metro, DTC, STC, chartered buses autorickshaws, motorbikes, private cars, scooters, cycles and other modes of transport are all again on the road.
The late evenings offer no respite when after-office commitments are strictly adhered to, nay eagerly awaited.
Long serpentine queues are generally the norm. The metro construction coupled with the Commonwealth games might prove to be the proverbial last straw on the overburdened capital’s camel back. Even now, the strain is showing with cases of road rage becoming common enough to NOT warrant a mention in the newspaper column unless they have gruesome consequences or horrific endings.
Which brings me to the idea of a unified transport model for the city. Certain caveats are in order, though. There has to be mechanism whereby the number of passengers using a particular mode of transport can be counted. There has to be a graded “pass” system. This system will allow multiple types of passes to be generated. A higher value pass will allow the bearer to use the vehicles that are specified for that band, while also allowing it to be used for vehicles of the band that are lower in the hierarchy. Public bicycles, metro, buses, chartered buses, autorickshaws, taxis and cabs can be coordinated to join this “band pass” system. The passengers can subscribe to any band that s/he chooses by paying a pre-arranged sum to the transport authority. This will allow him/her to use the public transport vehicles according to availability, comfort and ease.
More to follow…