Back to square one after 15 'good days'

Vipin Manocha left home in a DTC bus around 9 pm for Old Delhi Station, thinking his train is at 10:50 pm. His train was instead scheduled to depart at 10:05 pm. On a usual day, he would have missed the train. But thanks to the Delhi Government’s odd-even scheme, he reached the station just on time to catch it. 

“I reached the station around 10 pm and came to know that the train is about to leave. I could catch it because of the odd even formula that was in place at that time,” says Manocha.

Besides less traffic on the roads, the waiting time for the bus was also less that day. Manocha managed to get a bus within three minutes of arriving at the bus stop.
“Not only that day, the frequency of DTC buses was so much better during those 15 days,” he says.

In its efforts to clean Delhi’s air, the government had brought in its road rationing plan. While it is still not clear whether there was any effect on the capital’s toxic air, the regular DTC commuters are cheering for the plan for other reasons.

But over three weeks after the odd-even trial is over, things are not the same for commuters.

“I have seen so many buses of only a few routes stopping here. One bus of my route came after 45 minutes but the driver said it will not go all the way to the designated bus stop,” says Chanda Devi while waiting at the bus stop outside Lok Nayak Hospital for
one hour.

She says she had come to the hospital for a check-up at 6 am so that she could go leave for her home at Kanhaiya Nagar on time and “get some rest” before starting on the household chores.

At 3 pm, she was still waiting for a bus. “It has been more than an hour at the bus stop and I cannot find a single bus. They keep repeating buses of the same route,” she says.
High frequency of buses

When asked about her experience during the odd-even trial, she says, “It was definitely
nothing like this. I travelled at least four times during those 15 days and I used to get buses very easily. Par vo chaar din ki chandni jaisi thi (But it was only for few days),” she says laughingly.

Sonu Kumar, who travels from Mongolpuri to Jhandewalan on a DTC bus on a daily basis, was thrilled to hear that the Aam Aadmi Party government is planning to bring back the odd-even formula for the second time. But not for the reason it was enforced in the first place.

“I have no idea whether it will bring down the pollution levels in the city or not. But it was just easy travelling in buses from January 1 to January 15,” he says.
“It usually takes me around one and a half hours to travel one way. But the travel time was cut down to 45 minutes during the odd-even phase. The frequency was so much better. I didn’t have to wait for more than five minutes for the bus. Also, there was less traffic,” he adds.

Special bus service
However, Bhubhneswar Yadav, who often travels by bus, says that the government should not use private or school buses during the next phase of odd-even.
“Some people become suspicious of chartered buses. The government should increase its fleet by the next round,” he says.

According to Yadav, there were buses running on new routes when the odd-even formula was in place which have now “disappeared”.

“There were some routes which I had not seen earlier. I can’t see those routes now,”
he says.

When asked about the government’s plan to start a ‘Premium Bus Service’ with higher fares, Yadav says, “The public is ready to pay more if the
service is good”.

“I think DTC bus service is one of the most neglected public facilities. Why can’t the government improve it and make it like what it was during the odd-even days,” he says.
The Delhi government has proposed to start a ‘Premium Bus Service’ with higher fares, a step aimed at encouraging the use of public transport.

According to the plan, the public will be able to book their seats online in the air-conditioned buses.

Though the facility is aimed at the elite class to discourage them from using cars and the fares have not been decided yet, many commuters Deccan Herald spoke to said they are ready to pay “a little extra” if that means getting the bus on time and booking a seat before boarding. Some said they can use the service in case of an emergency.

With the Delhi government seeking public opinion on the second round of the odd-even formula, meaning it might come soon, many bus commuters are left wondering whether their “achhe din” would only come in intervals. Most see almost no hope in the improvement of the regular bus service anytime soon.

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