Beating pollution, one seat at a time.

Beating pollution, one seat at a time.

There‘s a lot more heaviness in the air. The signs are ominous. Visibility has gone down and suddenly a lot many people are seen wearing pollution masks and talking about fresh air. The basic right has become a luxury. It is not surprising at all. While the months of November- December bring in the festive season, it also adds to its woes.

A recent research suggested that air pollution leads to a decline in cognitive abilities. Warning on the lasting impact of pollution on our health and well-being goes out almost every day now. Key causes range from the notorious crop burning in the north/north-west to the never-ending and ever-increasing vehicular pollution in urban areas.

There are so many reasons for the bad air that engulfs us – but the chief culprit is vehicular pollution. Delhi-NCR has 556 motor vehicles up and running, per one thousand people. That means there’s a private vehicle for every second person in the city![i] No wonder the air quality in the region remains under the “severe” category for several days in a row.

To make matters worse, PM 2.5* known as ‘fine particulates’ was recorded at 264 micrograms against the safe limit of 60 micrograms just 2 days before Diwali![ii]

Such fine particles are also known to trigger or worsen diseases such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems.

Shuttl, along with the Gurgaon Police authorities, recently distributed over 15,000 masks in Shuttl buses to help curb the impact of deadly air pollution engulfing the citizens of Delhi-NCR.

While solutions are being sought after in ways to minimize the effect of pollution, can we also reduce our car-dependency, and search for alternate options?

Perhaps it is a good time to shift to Shared Mobility…

A way that reduces our carbon footprint, city congestion levels, and all the related pollution is shared mobility.

Opt for smart buses which are road-space and carbon-efficient. Indeed, buses move a large group of people in the most efficient manner.  On-demand, smart buses offer safe and reliable commuting and while there were limited options like this before – they are now available for office goers!

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In fact, World Resource Institute (WRI), a Delhi based think-tank found that Shuttl produces an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, compared to a public bus, and is 10 times more carbon efficient than a private car.

Shruti, a young professional from Gurgaon, has already made the shift. She prefers a reliable and safe mode of commute over her car which she leaves daily at her home now. By choosing Shuttl, she is happy to do her bit towards a greener environment.

Commuting from Neharpar, Faridabad to Gurugram every day, here is what she has to say:  “Shuttl acts as a reliable commuting option and a safe group-based commute for me. I do not have to be exposed to the rains, smog, or dust that I used to face earlier. I don’t need to use my car or worry about parking. I am doing my bit to reduce congestion. I think everyone should try it out.”

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References

[i] https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/delhi-has-556-motor-vehicles-per-one-thousand-people-118031901217_1.html

[ii] https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/delhi-pollution-air-quality-remains-very-poor-situation-to-worsen-118110500069_1.html 

*What is PM 2.5?

Commonly written as PM2.5, it refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers. Since they are so small and light, there’s an increasing chance of humans inhaling them deep into the lungs.


When in Aizawl, ​do not blow ​the ​horn!

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Stuck in traffic and getting subject to the constant blaring of horns? On the road amidst chaos and being greeted by all the noises? Honking is one of the biggest causes of noise pollution. Drivers honk while commuting to display their urgency, frustration, discontentment, and displeasure. Honking has become an extension of feelings on the road.

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It is embedded in the behaviour and road traffic culture of our country. Despite various campaigns being run to avoid it, the situation has not changed in most of the Indian cities. Noise pollution can cause headaches, hypertension and various other cardiovascular diseases. In India, where the traffic movement is slow and chaotic, stress and irritability can cause hostility and even road rage. These risks are more pronounced for the citizens of Delhi-NCR and Mumbai.

A 2017 World Economic Forum report states that Delhi is the 2nd noisiest city in the world. It is followed by Cairo and Mumbai, ranking 4th on the list.[i] A recent study by Mimi Hearing Technologies GmbH- digital hearing app founders- found that “the average city dweller has a hearing loss equivalent to 10-20 years older than their actual age. Citizens of Delhi have the most, with a hearing age of 20 years older.” [ii]

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But, Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, has become the first Indian city to adopt a ‘No Honking’ policy. This is an organic citizen initiative and hasn’t been legislated or implemented by the authorities. Despite this, there has been a huge and positive response by the citizens who are responding to this change enthusiastically.

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What can we learn from this?

Noise pollution caused by incessant honking can be tackled in two ways. First and the foremost is to bring a behavioural change in the society where people consciously take the decision to shift towards no honking, as we witness in Aizawl. People respect and follow the rules and maintain traffic discipline.

However, sometimes honking becomes the necessary evil as road traffic gets bad with the excessive number of vehicles on the roads. For instance, the data collected till May 2017 from Delhi’s transport department mentions that there are 10,567,712 registered vehicles in Delhi. The majority of these vehicles are two-wheelers – 6,648,730, followed by the registered cars which are 3,172,842 in number. [iii] These statistics raise concern over the number of vehicles on roads and the ensuing noise pollution caused by them. As a result, there is a need to bring a structural change in the urban transportation.

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Shared bus mobility is the most efficient and environment-friendly way to move millions of commuters through congested cities and consequently, control the noise levels on the roads. A 2012 study by IIT Madras states that the average occupancy in buses is 20 whereas the average occupancy in cars and two-wheelers is only 2.2 and 1.2 persons, respectively. The study further mentioned that the buses are the most popular means of transport that cater to 60% of Delhi’s total demand.[iv]

Shuttl ’s app-based smart bus service is dedicated to providing shared mobility solutions to commuters. Shuttl’s bus-based model encourages a shift away from private vehicle ownership to equitable, affordable, and accessible smart mobility solutions. It also showcases the role of the private sector in contributing to and transforming the way urban commuters travel.

That is why increasing the role of shared mobility through the contributions made by both the public and private sector have the potential to make Indian cities safer and noise-free.

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References

[i]https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/these-are-the-cities-with-the-worst-noise-pollution/

[ii]http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Delhi%E2%80%99s%20ambient%20noise%20levels%20influenced%20by%20traffic%20flow.pdf

[iii]https://scroll.in/latest/839608/delhi-has-more-than-one-crore-registered-vehicles-data-reveals

[iv]http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Traffic-chaos-costs-Rs-60000cr-annually-05022017005017, http://www1.m.businessinsider.in/delhites-wasted-rs-60000-crorea-year-by-standing-in-traffic/articleshow/56981744.cms