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
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.