The Delhi Metro has been around for more than thirteen years now. It is arguably India’s most advanced metro line and one of the world’s best. It has modern air conditioned coaches, nominal ticket rates, extensive routes and a stellar service. Talking of safety, the Delhi Metro is probably the safest means of public transport, with effective security measures deployed at every station. Accidents and crimes are rare, which speaks volumes for it. The most highlighting feature the Delhi Metro has to offer is the constant time of journey. Barring a few cases that involve a technical glitch, the metro will definitely take the same time from station X to station Y. This is something that can never be accomplished on road.
Talking of other modes of public transport, we have buses, which cover almost all the areas of the city. In recent years, the department of transportation has introduced new advanced buses that run on CNG and offer air conditioning. These buses are also the cheapest and most widely available mode of transport.
Considering that our city has these modes of public transport available, the ever growing count of cars on the roads is depressing. The rate at which this count is increasing is alarming. Going by the figures mentioned at the Delhi govt. website, the total number of private vehicles registered as of 2015 is close to one crore. You read that right.
In today’s time, every one wants to own a car. Those who own one want a second. And why not! Each member of the family should have a car to himself, right? Having said that, it’s worth our time to think about what makes us want a car so badly. Why we need to travel in a car when the metro can take us there in lesser time.
Owning a car, sadly, has become synonymous to being well financially. Our society likes to believe that those who don’t own a car can’t afford it. Say, in a party, where everyone’s reaching in their sedans, would you travel there in an auto rickshaw or a bus, when you can just take your car? Of course you won’t. What will everyone think of you! Apart from being a status symbol, our comfort is another major culprit. With our own cars, we get point to point service without having to wait. Facilities like air-conditioning, music, and some private space add to it. Cars sure sound fun and easy, don’t they! Wait till you hear the complete story.
In a recent study, Delhi was ranked as the most polluted city on the globe. It’s not really a surprise, considering the high volume of vehicles on our roads. High pollution means more diseases, more diseases mean more ill people. Are we weighing comfort more than health? And wait, the last time I drove my car to office, I remember being stuck in an hour long jam in 45 degrees of heat. Last time I checked, that was not how the dictionary defined comfort. Moreover, more cars mean more accidents, and one doesn’t need to be a genius to understand why.
Having talked about the ills of using personal cars unnecessarily, let’s take a quick look at why I and you tend to avoid public transport. The first thing that strikes my mind is the fact that buses and metro trains are usually over crowded, especially in the busy office hours. While this certainly speaks for the fact that a lot of people are indeed using these means, it also exposes the need for more buses and trains per route. While new trains with more number of coaches are already being imported, the department of transport also needs to introduce more buses on the roads, at least for busier routes. If even half the car crowd shifts to buses, each new bus will mean 10 less cars on roads. While this is one step, it doesn’t solve the whole problem. We also need to ensure that people don’t board a fully occupied bus or train, just to avoid waiting a couple of minutes for the next. This can be tackled by enforcing a rule, where no more than, say, fifty passengers are allowed on a bus. As soon as the fiftieth passenger boards, no more passengers are allowed, until one gets off. This can be regulated by installing cameras, one in each bus. Needless to say, this will also help make these buses safer.
Since much of this requires actions from the govt., one might be inclined towards forgetting the idea altogether. In India, it is easy to believe that requesting or hoping the govt. to make things better is foolish. However, with the new govt. being in its early days, this looks more achievable now, than it could be any later. There’s a dedicated page for transport related queries, complaints or requests on the Delhi govt’s website (http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/doit_transport/Transport/Home/Contact+Us). Also, with the platforms like Change.org (https://www.change.org/), making an appeal to the govt. has become easier. I’m not a fan of the govt., I just believe in trying, and I firmly believe that trying to make our city a better place is worth every bit. Even if we’re too lazy to bother about writing to govt., can we not, at the least, resist the luxury of owning more than one car in the family?
Imagine, in a decade from now, we can either have a city that has millions of cars, but no space to drive, or a city where the roads are way less crowded and a place which is way less polluted. Is it really a tough call to make?
I’m reminded of a quote I read somewhere. Here’s how it goes,
A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich use public transport.
– Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá