All this noise about Delhi govt’s recent #OddEven rule could leave anyone with a sane mind, well, confused!

If you go through , you’ll see that we’ve been looking at the new policy, and more importantly at the underlying monstrous problem from a completely logical stand-point. By observing world trends as closely as the local ones, we’ve made sure to keep your personal point of view central to our study.

By applying a bottom-up approach to our research, we’re analysing the problem rather than merely analysing the solutions. We’ve divided our observations into 4 broad points and they’re as follows:

  1. The problem: Are cars really as harmful as they say?

Vehicular emissions are responsible for 25% of our total carbon footprint on Earth.

A car carrying 1-2 people uses only 2.5 times less space than a bus carrying 40 passengers. Additionally, private cars require parking space and emit more harmful particulate matter merely because of their higher numbers on the road.

A survey conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics in collaboration with the Delhi govt shows that 8827431 vehicles ply on the packed Delhi roads everyday out of which 31.6% are cars, contributing to 20% of the total PM emissions. It’s important to note that two-wheelers and heavy-duty vehicles are big contributors to air pollution too, at 31% and 28% respectively.

It doesn’t add up then, to put all the blame on privately owned vehicles, does it?

We thought as much.

Then we found this detailed and persuasive presentation by Swedish statistician, Prof. Hans Rosling, where he debunks the popular urban myth of population explosion. He touches upon some interesting truths established here by means of statistical analysis. Let us paraphrase some of his major findings which are relevant to our discussion.

He’s divided the world population of 7 billion (out of which 4 billion resides in Asia) on the basis of income groups – the lowest income group being $1/day (can barely afford food and footwear) on one hand and the richest being $100/day or more (airplane, private jet commuters) on the other. Below are few of the proven insights based on his analysis:

  • the richest half of the world contributes to 85% of the world’s total CO2 emission
  • the biggest struggle for the poor is the fight for energy
  • unless the richer half of the world equalizes its energy consumption, pollution of any kind can’t be controlled, which means more sharing, less flights, less cars and eventually less motorbikes.
  1. The solution: an impressive public transportation system

Since taxi-cabs and auto-rickshaws have the similar cumulative effect on the environment as privately owned vehicles, it leaves us with the following two solutions – Metro/Rail & Buses.

Metro and Rails are a great way for people to move around in cities but they have four major disadvantages.

First, they are infrastructure heavy and hence exorbitantly expensive & energy intensive. All the major Metro or Rail projects have a budget running up to a couple of hundred crores/kilometer.

Second, they take years to build because of which they lack flexibility and stifle expansion of cities.

Third, they lack first and last mile connectivity. People are dependent on private vehicles or buses to reach Metro or Rail Stations.

Fourth, they are designed for mass transit and hence lack comfort & in a country like India are often overcrowded.

In all these four mentioned disadvantages buses score over Metro or Rail.

Buses do not require any additional infrastructure except roads. Moreover, buses are well suited for green technologies like hybrid or electric engines. We just need to add more buses to cope with new demand. Buses also cover first & last mile of commute. A bus is always within a radius of a 10 minute walk. Lastly and most importantly, with the advent of smart-phones, technology can be leveraged to bring unprecedented efficiency in the way buses move. With live tracking, intelligent routing and predictive analysis based on earlier traffic patterns, buses can now move exactly as per the demand.

Excitedly, this is exactly what Shuttl has been working towards – an infallible public commute system which is both intelligent and affordable at the same time. In fact in the last 9 months we’ve found that with the help of path-breaking technology and dedicated talent, achieving this is easier than it seems!

And just for fun, we’ve prepared an awesome list of ‘the 6 traits of the perfect public transport system’ for you. Tell us if you agree!

  1. Punctual
  2. Healthy & Eco-friendly
  3. Safe & Comfortable
  4. High frequency
  5. Smart/ Easy to hail
  6. Affordable
  1. Climate change Red Alert

To achieve balance in any given system, all forces must work in tandem. Merely expecting people to voluntarily give up their existing ways of living for an inefficient or uncomfortable mode of transport is counter-productive.

But did you know that public transport users with access to a car but choosing to use public transport for their journey are helping to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 124000 tonnes per year (Source: Centro Annual Statistical Report 2012).

Delhi govt’s #OddEven rule is a positive example of giving people a reason to care, where they’re urged to leave their vehicles at home even if for half of the week. All of us at Shuttl congratulate and thank the AAP government for leading the way in the right direction. Our quest to rid our cities of poisonous air and stressful traffic congestion will only end when all citizens have access to intelligent and reliable public transport system which keeps India from losing its health and vitality.

This brings to mind a famous quote – “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.” – Gustavo Petro, ex-Mayor, Bogota, Colombia

Our environment is constantly trying to communicate with us with red flags like unprecedented floods, land-slides, the growing rate of urban respiratory disorders et al. Since all development, urban or rural, relies on infrastructure which is sustainable both socio-economically and environmentally, it’s really up to us and the choices we make in our daily lives, to achieve a healthy equilibrium.

  1. Our role as citizens and global consumers

Delhi govt’s #OddEvenRule is likely to end on 15th January, 2016.

What you and I can do is to NOT stop at it. This dialogue about what’s good for the future of our cities must carry on. Sometimes a change may occur in the course of a night and sometimes it could take years. How we pursue our future reflects on our lives and on the lives of those directly or indirectly related to us. How we travel, use/abuse energy, the food habits we inculcate, everything matters in the greater course of time – and herein lay both our greatest responsibility and a giving source of empowerment for us.

So is carpool better than driving to work alone? Yes, it is.

Are Smart buses the future of public transport? Certainly looks like it.

Is the #OddEven rule an abomination? Most definitely not!

The choices we make our literally the reigns of our future, and they rest persistently in our hands. So, here’s to smart choices and cleaner air, and to cities that breathe freely instead of choking on frustrating traffic deadlocks day after day.

Happy Shuttling!

2 thoughts on “What’s the big deal about (quitting) cars?

  1. Shuttl is what NCR needs to solve public transport problems !!! Great initiative … Please do more publicity in all type of media. Do put flyers on cars parked in business areas – they will be your fastest converts ! Target areas with high rises as they have maximum density of cars and create maximum congestion e.g. Gurgaon, Connaught Place, Nehru Place, etc. In fact start services from various residential areas to various business to become meaningful alternative to metro. Keep up the good work !!! NCR needs you a lot to provide it with congestion and pollution free environment.


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