IN-DEPTH

With women’s safety go­ing for a toss & traf­fic prob­lems in­ces­santly shoot­ing up­wards, Del­hi­ites say trav­el­ling by a pub­lic trans­port is no wiser than go­ing to the devil. The Metro, that rose like a Mes­siah, is now the de­mon king

DNA (Delhi) - - FRONT PAGE - Sak­shi Chand sak­shi.chand@dnain­dia.net

With safety nil and traf­fic prob­lems wors­en­ing by the day, Del­hi­ites say trav­el­ling by pub­lic trans­port no bet­ter than a deal with the devil

New Delhi is well on its way to be­com­ing the most pop­u­lated city in the world. That it is one huge traf­fic night­mare is no se­cret ei­ther. There are met­ros and buses and also ve­hi­cles to serve the feeder routes but on any given day noth­ing falls in place in New Delhi. Es­pe­cially dur­ing peak house, Delhi re­sem­bles a di­rec­tion­less city. Traf­fic jams ev­ery­where, peo­ple hang­ing out of buses and met­ros packed to the hilt. E-au­tos honking away at metro sta­tions pri­vate ve­hi­cles at­tempt­ing to speed and brake is what Delhi sounds like. No won­der then, that com­muters are in­creas­ingly go­ing af­ter pri­vate cabs to get rid of their daily com­mut­ing woes. But no, the prob­lems do not end there. More pri­vate cabs means more ve­hic­u­lar pol­lu­tion and more of a jam on the roads. All in all, Delhi’s wait­ing to ex­plode.

Pol­lu­tion digs up a hell­hole

Pol­lu­tion in New Delhi needs no in­tro­duc­tion at all, con­sid­er­ing the last few weeks. The smog and smoke and Del­hites stomp­ing around with masks has be­come too com­mon a sight. In a sur­vey, the Cap­i­tal is ranked last among 14 In­dian cities with re­gards to ve­hic­u­lar emis­sions. This poor per­for­mance comes de­spite the fact that all pub­lic road trans­port uses CNG - the cleaner al­ter­na­tive fuel. Delhi also has a com­pa­ra­bly higher share of pub­lic trans­port rid­er­ship. So why does the city choke it­self if the ba­sics are in place?. The re­cent wave of on­line app cab com­pa­nies and more reliance on pri­vate trans­port are two ma­jor rea­sons for the in­crease in ve­hic­u­lar pol­luti­non, says the sur­vey.

While the city soars with its hubs, mar­kets and eco­nomic cen­tres, the share of pub­lic trans­port is ex­pected to go down to 25 to 35 per cent by this De­cem­ber. On the other hand, the use of pri­vate ve­hi­cles be­tween 2014 and 2017 has been grow­ing 8 to 10 per­cent ap­prox­i­mately - one can ex­pect that th­ese fig­ures have risen in 2018 too. Th­ese num­bers prove that a Del­hi­ite prefers to pay more for a pri­vate cab and add to the pol­lu­tion mess.

No safety for women here

Women do not fancy pub­lic trans­port ei­ther. Some have hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ences to blame. 23-year-old Charu Singh was once trav­el­ling from South Cam­pus to Pun­jabi Bagh all alone in a pub­lic bus, The driver was drunk, she said and while no un­to­ward in­ci­dent hap­pened, she re­mem­bers the ride very well. “The driver said he wanted to take a de­tour to col­lect a pack­age, even while I was alone in the bus and that scared the hell out of me. Never had the courage to step into a bus af­ter that for at least two years. Have only re­cently re­sumed.”

Ni­tika Anand, an en­tre­pre­neur who re­sides in Noida, said “Dur­ing peak hours, us­ing a metro is sad. One gets shoved in like sar­dines, one can hardly breathe.” Delhi has long been known as an un­safe city for women. In­con­ve­nient and un­friendly trans­port sys­tems not only con­trib­ute to the feel­ing of in­se­cu­rity, they also curb the free­dom and in­de­pen­dence for women. The Delhi gov­ern­ment had fa­mously promised a more se­cure and women-friendly trans­port sys­tem - from war­dens in the met­ros to CCTV cam­eras. How­ever the sit­u­a­tion on ground hasn’t changed much While be­ing fleeced by an auto driver uni­formly af­fects all gen­ders, sex­ual ha­rass­ment in pub­lic trans­port is not new at all.

Last mile con­nec­tiv­ity

When it comes to last mile con­nec­tiv­ity gen­der re­ally isn’t an is­sue - all are af­fected. The com­ing of the Delhi metro made the lives of not just peo­ple liv­ing in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal but also for those liv­ing in Delhi- NCR (Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion) eas­ier this has all come with a price though. For res­i­dents in Noida, the last metro sta­tion is Noida city cen­tre is far from var­i­ous sec­tors and res­i­den­tial places in Noida. Res­i­dents liv­ing in sec­tor 62, 76,77,73,60 and even those so­ci­eties on Taj Ex­press­way have no con­nec­tiv­ity to the metro. Peo­ple have to ei­ther take an auto or a cab and reach the near­est metro sta­tion. In this case peo­ple feel tak­ing the cab is eas­ier than chang­ing modes of travel.

Take the case of Outer Delhi, the clos­est metro sta­tions are Rithala and Sa­may­pur Badli. A ma­jor chunk of labour­ers work in Bawana In­dus­trial area but to reach th­ese metro sta­tions one has to travel some dis­tance. To reach Sa­may­pur Badli af­ter work from Bawana In­dus­trial area is an easy dis­tance of around 11 kilo­me­tres and then the metro. Work­ers usu­ally take shared auto-rick­shaws and then pro­ceed to the metro. But it is not al­ways a happy day that the mode of trans­port to reach to the metro sta­tion is read­ily avail­able. Anil Chikara, a Trans­port Ex­pert said “The ma­jor prob­lem with our trans­port sys­tem is that it is not user friendly. The last mile con­nec­tiv­ity is a key prob­lem whether it’s buses or metro. The trans­port sys­tem is un­re­li­able as well. The time it would take to re­place a break­down bus or ar­range for some­thing faster,” he said.

Chinkara added that while pub­lic trans­port buses are not user friendly, there is no way to find out the lo­ca­tion of ac­tive buses at any point of time. “Even with buses the last mile con­nec­tiv­ity is­sue pre­vails. A bus can drop you to a cer­tain stop but to reach home you would need to adapt other modes of travel. Some of the bus stands are also en­croached by peo­ple. In this case peo­ple stand on the road while oth­ers sleep at the bus stand. “Due to many peo­ple mov­ing to Delhi the pres­sure on the ex­ist­ing roads is ex­cess. Il­le­gal mi­grants have taken up the space on the roads. The road then from its orig­i­nal struc­ture moves to be­ing dis­or­ga­nized,” said Chikara.

Buses hot­bed of hor­rific crimes

Women in Delhi say that pub­lic trans­port buses do not work for women at all. Ntika Anand adds: “” They are ill main­tained and aren’t even com­fort­able. Their’s air con­di­tion­ers mostly don’t func­tion in sum­mers, more­over there is no sense of per­sonal space. The last mile con­nec­tiv­ity also adds to the risk fac­tor,”.

Not just for women, buses do not seem con­ve­nient for se­nior cit­i­zens. Pri­tam Choud­hary an 80-year old ac­tivist of­ten takes the bus from ITO to var­i­ous other parts of Delhi. “The buses do not stop at the bus stop but a lit­tle be­fore or ahead of the ac­tual bus stand. Be­ing old, one takes time to move. More­over, the buses are not friendly for se­nior cit­i­zens to board and alight. ” said Choud­hary.

“The pres­ence of Home Guards in 3000 DTC buses has not done any­thing to ease the plight of pas­sen­gers. Com­muters state that Home Guards need to be posted at bus stands in­stead of in­side the buses. That way, peo­ple can board and alight a lit­tle eas­ily and also the buses will halt at des­ig­nated bus stands.

Not a life in the Metro any­more

Delhi met­ros have in­deed taken over the stress of trav­el­ling in Delhi. How­ever dur­ing peak hours, met­ros do not pro­vide a smooth ride. The crowds are huge es­pe­cially in cer­tain lines and dis­ci­pline take s a back seat. Though there are war­dens, not al­ways do peo­ple stand in lines and then it is sur­vival of the fittest to get in­side a metro. Com­pared to oth­ers, Del­hi­ties still pre­fer brav­ing a crowded metro than a bus. Peo­ple have found a way to deal with the crowds push them­selves and find some stand­ing space. That dur­ing peak hours (es­pe­cially if you are not board­ing from the start­ing sta­tion) find­ing a seat is a mir­a­cle, is quite un­der­stood. An­jana Ku­mar, a chef loved tak­ing the metro for her usual trav­els but post her knee surgery she has stopped us­ing the metro. “The prob­lem is that peo­ple in gen­eral aren’t cour­te­ous. With a stick and two re­cently op­er­ated knees I stopped tak­ing the metro, as there I could not as­sure a stand­ing place for my­self, leave alone a seat.

Au­tos are not very friendly

Auto driv­ers are not the friendli­est of the lot in Delhi. They, more than of­ten, do not want to go to the place you want to go. In that case, the e-au­tos or the share au­tos make more sense. How­ever, th­ese au­tos need to wait till all the seats are filled and that means a good 1-15 minute wait. More­over, th­ese au­tos are spot­ted at ma­jor metro sta­tions some­times. Th­ese fac­tors push Deli­hites to hail pri­vate ve­hi­cles which will tke them des­ti­na­tion smoothly. In all, Delhi, though boast­ing of wide roads and the best metro net­work, is not the best place to be dur­ing peak hours. Au­thor­i­ties need to put on their think­ing caps and find a way around the daily traf­fic woes. Af­ter all, it is the Cap­i­tal and needs to set an ex­am­ple for the rest.

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