AAP takes a different route to solve congestion

As the AAP completes one year in office, here's a review on the status of the promises made by the party on public transport system.

February 11, 2016 12:00 am | Updated September 02, 2016 02:14 pm IST

The fleet of the Delhi Transport Corporation carries 10 lakh more commuters than the Delhi Metro on a daily basis. FILE PHOTO

The fleet of the Delhi Transport Corporation carries 10 lakh more commuters than the Delhi Metro on a daily basis. FILE PHOTO

Flyovers, one after another till there were over 70 in Delhi, were a leitmotif of the 15-year Congress regime in the Capital.

As Delhi's car population has increased, the number of elevated roads, signal-free corridors and new roads have tried to keep pace and failed.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), however, took a very different view of how it plans to tackle the congestion and mobility issues of Delhi.

Instead of promising more flyovers or wider roads, the emphasis in its manifesto has been on improving and augmenting public transport in Delhi, from increasing the fleet of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses to providing last mile connectivity and regularisation of e-rickshaws and auto rickshaws.

A year since it came to power, it has been a mixed bag for the AAP government when it comes to the transport sector.

It has achieved a level of success when it comes to promises made about regularisation of e-rickshaws, work is under progress when it comes to augmenting DTC's fleet and providing last mile connectivity and no progress has been made when it comes to promises such as bringing a Unified Transport Authority for Delhi or revamping the Ring Railway.

Though it didn't really promise new roads or flyovers for Delhi, the government has been proactive in finishing such work left by the previous government.

Flyovers and signal-free corridors, such as the ones on Outer Ring Road, have been completed. The government is also planning to finish projects such as the Signature Bridge that have been delayed for more than a decade.

The AAP government had promised to provide a solution the problem of multiplicity of authorities that mires many transport related projects. The answer was supposed to be a Unified Transport Authority that will formulate a holistic transport policies for all forms of transport including the metro, buses, auto rickshaws, rickshaws and e-rickshaws.

There has been no visible progress on this ambitious project even though the government has been talking about a plan to come up with a comprehensive transport policy.

The massive expansion of the city's bus fleet promised by the government is still a work under progress, as is the plan to have feeder services for Delhi Metro to provide last mile connectivity.

Another promising plan that couldn't take off was the extension and development of Ring Railway services in Delhi, with collaboration with the Indian Railways. Going back to the 1970s, the Ring Railway provides excellent connectivity through the heart of Delhi but due to lack of last mile connectivity and even proper approach roads to the stations, the system could never become popular with commuters.

The issue was taken up with the Union Railway Minister's meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal but nothing concrete could take shape.

AAP had also promised to work towards a large-scale expansion of the Delhi Metro, particularly in rural areas but the metro's expansion has been according to its existing plan.

There have been many meetings between the government and the top brass of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) but it seems unlikely that the latter would add newer lines to its network to reach the farthest points of the city that are not already part of its planned network.

Another promise was to provide concessional passes for senior citizens, students and persons with

disability on buses and in Delhi Metro but it seems unlikely that DMRC would budge from its policy of no concessional passes either. Such passes are already in existence when it comes to DTC buses though.

The cooperation between the government and DMRC, however, was most evident during the odd-even scheme when the frequency of metro trains was increased to accommodate the expected rise in footfall, following the government's request.

The government kept its promise to auto rickshaw drivers of 'preventing harassment of auto rickshaw drivers by the police' by curtailing special powers of the Delhi Traffic Police to impound vehicles.

On the other hand, its promise to auto rickshaw users to take action for misbehaviour or violating laws couldn't is yet to fructify satisfactorily.

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