With the launch of the much debated odd-even formula programme, one has to contemplate upon its execution on the initial day and the implications it holds for the days to come. The Delhi Government, led by Arvind Kejriwal, finds itself with the responsibility to tackle a herculean challenge. It has to work to cleanse the world’s ‘most polluted Urban Air’- that is in Delhi. However, simultaneously, the government has to ensure a smooth system of conveyance for its people. The government has announced the activation of 6000 public buses to balance out the two ends, in the context of the odd-even vehicle system. Several studies conducted over the years, regarding transportation in Delhi, state that there has been a rapid fall in the number of buses since 2010-11. These studies further add that there has been an additional drop of 11% in the number of passengers traversing by buses since 2014. The reduction in buses and people utilising bus services, data reveals, is due to increase in the number of private vehicles.
If one looks at the data more comprehensively, the growth of the use of private vehicles has been rapid at 92% per 1000 in the last 16 years. Current statistics also reveal that Delhi buses, which carry about 3.8 million passengers over a stretch of 7.8 kilometres, don’t even cover one-third of the total population in Delhi. The Delhi Metro- a remarkable and much-required feat- serves as the primary competitor to the newly planned bus system. Covering a total distance of 187 kilometres, as of now, the metro stretches across seven lines. According to estimates, it serves an average of 2.7 million passengers a day. The metro is in its third phase of construction, at this point, which will extend metro tracks by an additional 117 kilometres. The first day of the New Year began at an ‘odd’ note. The performance saw a fair amount of success despite the heavy criticism the plan was subject to over the past few weeks. The usual unruly traffic was mitigated- a positive surprise. One could see odd-numbered vehicles plying with very few cases of violation. That the people of Delhi were complementing the efforts of the AAP government for clean air was heartily evident. While speculation remains that people will purchase a second vehicle to prevent disruption in their daily lives, one cannot deny the encouraging signs of the first day. However, common citizens expressed disappointment as public transportation in popular places like Connaught Place and the Rajiv Chowk Metro Station were jam packed and chaotic. While the people left their vehicles to join the government’s endeavour, the latter couldn’t manage to ensure trouble-free and quick public conveyance for the former. Even with the reduction in the number of vehicles on the street, pollution persisted and there were massive fluctuations in pollution levels from different sources. The Delhi government, however, remains optimistic about the implementation of the odd-even formula in the remaining days.