Delhi

Last-mile connectivity continues to be a problem

Delhi today accounts for more cars than any other Indian city and the prime reason for that is the lack of a robust public transport system.

In the last decade, the Delhi Metro has changed the way we travel and the mass rapid transit system carries more than 26 lakh commuters every day across its network spread over 200 kms in Delhi NCR. Despite all its comfort and dependability, a large section of Delhiites still prefer private transport because the important question of last-mile connectivity still remains unsolved.

The metro provides a safe, efficient and comfortable journey but the trouble begins once you step out of its sanitised environment. Not much thought has gone behind providing an equally dependable support system that would help commuters reach the metro station from their homes and offices and vice versa.

The issue of last-mile connectivity has been a challenge for successive governments and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had made it a major promise in its manifesto.In the year since, the government has tried to regulate the unorganised system of last-mile connectivity but is yet to taste success.

When it comes to poll promises regarding transport infrastructure, ‘Effective Last Mile Connectivity’ was on top of the list. The party had claimed it would provide effective last mile connectivity in Delhi’s public transit system, which, apart from providing a seamless travel experience to commuters, would also play a role in reducing the number of crimes against women.

The plan included an effective combination of shared autos, metro feeder services and e-rickshaws for last mile connectivity by fixing and delimiting routes. This, AAP had promised, will be synced with metro and bus timings so that there is a working connection to each neighbourhood from nodal points.

Shared auto rickshaws from Metro stations such as Anand Vihar and INA have become a reality but not due to the government’s intervention. For instance, INA metro station to the popular Sarojini Nagar market has become a popular route with auto rickshaw drivers charging Rs. 10 per passenger and plying with four to five passengers at a time. Similar connectivity can be seen between Anand Vihar and Dilshad Garden metro stations.

This arrangement, however, is result of demand and supply and remains unorganised. The AAP’s promise to provide more auto rickshaw stands and bays, particularly near metro stations is yet to be fully realised, primarily due to paucity of land.

The functioning of the Delhi Metro feeder services remains a blot on the illustrious transport system. The government, however, plans to soon introduce 500 'midi' buses with the help of the DTC to fill the feeder service gap. There are plans to induct more such buses by the middle of this year. The government has also floated a global Expression of Interest tender for the procurement of feeder buses which are expected to be deployed on routes where last-mile connectivity is a major problem based on the findings of an ongoing route rationalisation exercise.

At most Delhi neighbourhoods, e-rickshaws have come to occupy the place of the most affordable and comparatively faster modes for last-mile connectivity. The government has tried to regularise this sector by bringing in standardisation and a simplified procedure for registering of e-rickshaws.

With work on synchronising ticketing system and time tables of different modes of transport, hopefully using public transport could become a more reliable and comfortable experience by the end of this year.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 5:52:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/Last-mile-connectivity-continues-to-be-a-problem/article15618619.ece

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