While phase 1 of the odd-even car formula in Delhi brought in mixed opinions and undoubtedly many frustrated commuters, it did bring in many positive changes too:
- Significantly fewer cars on the road
- Traffic jams became rare
- Much lesser pollution. Even though there were multiple ifs and buts about the cause of dipped pollution levels, the very fact that there were fewer jams and less stranded vehicles on the roads for long hours, would definitely have affected pollution levels
- Happy commuters led to fewer road rage incidents too!
Delhi Government deserves an applause for thinking of incorporating this scheme. We cannot deny that the city’s infrastructure really needs to be bolstered to make this scheme work to the level that it keeps the city’s people happy even as it curbs the alarming pollution levels. Apart from better metro network, increased and pollution-free public transport and options for last mile connectivity, the Government needs to work on making roads safe, to encourage people to walk, cycle, bike and car pool, without any fear.
We do know by now that this scheme is an off-shoot of what has already been experimented successfully in many countries. What we may not know is that it actually began centuries ago when Julius Caesar adopted the policy after horse carriages started creating congestion in Rome! In 45 B.C., centre of Rome was made off limits for all vehicles during day except carriages transporting officials and dignitaries. Though its success remains undetermined; road space rationing since then has been replicated globally.
Over the last decade, we find that road space rationing has done well for many cities around the world. Be it Sao Paulo, Beijing, Paris or London; alternate day travel has been used with encouraging results worldwide. Recently major cities like Paris, Rome and Milan imposed partial driving restrictions in order to mitigate air pollution upsurge.
Looking at Delhi again, besides the positive results of lowering traffic congestion and air pollution, road space rationing may have some drawbacks as a long term measure.
- In response, certain population segment may procure a second vehicle, often being older and therefore more polluting.
- High penalties could result in fat bribes
- Exemption to certain category of drivers may lead to confusion and conflict
Even though Delhi may not have been completely prepared with its infrastructure and social climate, the 15-day trial was successful, and secured the support of the public, by and large. However, it also unveiled various gaps that need to be filled not just by the Government, but by us as individuals too. The trial has jolted us out of our comfort zones and helped us see the larger picture for the sake of our city, and country.
In the hope that ‘odds’ are evened out soon.
About the author
Nitasha Jain is Manager, Marketing & Communications for Colliers International in India. She has 9+ years of experience in building focused and effective communication for diverse fields including Real Estate, IT, Hospitality and Lifestyle.