From today the Delhi government is seeking suggestions on how the next phase of the odd-even scheme should be implemented. Till February 7 you can email your suggestions to [email protected], you can call in your suggestions and MLAs will conduct public meetings to get feedback on the scheme.
Many car owners voluntarily followed the scheme for the 15 days of the year and now have to choose from when the next phase of the scheme can be implemented. They have to choose between dates February 14 and May 1 shortlisted by the government or can even choose 'forever'.
No car owner in their right mind is likely to pick that last option given it means you can use your car only every alternate weekday. Let's also be clear that having the odd-even scheme as the last trial of it proved cannot singularly bring down air pollution. Weather conditions and curbs on other industry are equally essential in surrounding regions to improve air quality.
But there is a two-word solution to make it easier for people to follow the odd-even rule: Public Transport.
Where are Delhi's taxis except at the airport, train termini and some select locations? Can you flag one down on a street? Delhi's taxi service has been taken over by app-based services because its just much easier to get. They come to your doorstep and drop you to your destination and there's no bargaining involved.
App-based services are hugely successful in the national capital thanks to the absence of a existing taxi network. Delhi could try introducing more state permit-based taxis to take on the aggregators but unless it makes these cabs easily available it's unlikely to work.
Delhi has two lakh rickshaws and never one that's willing to go wherever it is you want to go. And even more rarely is there one that is willing to travel on the basis of the meter. Mumbai also two lakh auto rickshaw permits issued and is just over 600 sq km in area . But Delhi has an area of over 1400 sq km. Perhaps it just an indication of how much of a monopoly existing rickshaw drivers have.
Why does Delhi have so few rickshaws and negligible enforcement of metered fares or refusal to ply? Does it has something to do with the fact that auto-rickshaw drivers are an important electoral constituency for the AAP government? The government will have to bite the bullet and make them more answerable to public transport norms to make an ambitious scheme like the odd-even more easy to implement on a long-term basis.
When it attempted the odd-even scheme the Delhi government had an ambitious plan to bolster public transport. It believed all the school buses that were free thanks to the 15-day vacation granted to schools and would be available to the public at large. However, understandably most of the buses weren't made available despite the government's threat to name and shame them.
The government has since promised to have 3,000 new buses in the city, but until they actually hit the streets and are available at regular enough intervals it won't really make public transport feasible for those who want to use one.
Do you have any other solutions? Let us know in the comments below.