Various studies on Delhi’s pollution reveal road dust and vehicular emissions to be the major contributors, followed by construction activities, industrial emissions and stubble burning in neighbouring States. Delhi, on its part, has made headway in terms of usage of fuels other than diesel and petrol, diversification of metro lines, etc. However, more could be done on the Urban Mobility Planning (UMP) front.

Collection of data and its evaluation and representation are key components of efficient transport planning. Rather than broad categories of motorised and non-motorised data, efforts to collect data at a disaggregated level, such as usage of different modes of transport — walking, cycling, para-transit, city buses, rickshaw, etc — at various time intervals are required.

The disaggregated data of, say, Connaught Place may be different from that of Punjabi Bagh, Vasant Vihar or Old Delhi. The accessibility to city centre as also the standard of living determine the mode of transport. Thus, the UMP may essentially have street network data in the form of footpath and cycle tracks, street management data relating to regulated and unregulated parking space, public transport data on bus/rapid transit corridors, frequency of bus service, etc., for detailed demand modelling exercises for effective public transport strategy.

Integrating land use and transport is a key component for effective transport strategy. In Delhi, while government buildings generally are concentrated at central Delhi, private offices are scattered across the city. Rather than considering transport as a sub-component of office planning, emphasis may be on integrating transport to land use planning. Offices and key service establishments must be concentrated in areas which automatically motivates the public to use public transport, say, near metro stations.

Strong partnership and significant coordination between various municipalities and regional transport authorities are also essential. The present practice of providing large parking facilities near service centres and offices may be replaced by multi-facility options of food and multi-utility services.

As Delhi displays its transport history in its long-lived infrastructure and settlement structures, its flexibility to suit the requirements of a growing population may be difficult. However, all future regional land use strategies may necessarily be harmonised with transport studies with reallocation in the existing arrangements wherever feasible.

Short-term strategies

In the short-term, bus network redesign may be explored, to increase frequency and reduce duplication; the focus should be on the frequency-connections trade-off. Strengthening bus connectivity to railway stations, key service centres and metro systems will help reduce private car usage. This apart, the timing, frequency and connectivity of local trains may be synchronised with that of bus and metro.

Other measures, especially in winter, are avoiding frequent digging of roads and cleaning of streets with water sprinklers/wet sweeping to avoid accumulation of roadside dust, etc.

A congestion tax, in line with global best practices, could be levied with higher rates for those vehicles not using clean fuels. Also, a car purchase restriction policy may be introduced to check the growth of private cars.

The writer serves as Civil Servant in the Ministry of Finance. Views are personal