NEW DELHI: Delhi seems to be headed for a transport disaster. The first two attempts at implementing the odd-even scheme had demonstrated the lack of public transport options. The strain was evident despite the significant exemptions that were allowed. But now, there are three major factors that look set to derail the city.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has made the odd-even scheme a near-permanent feature for the coming winter. It also expanded the scope of the plan to cover all of NCR, including major satellite areas like Noida, Gurugram and Faridabad.
The first major factor is schools. The first two attempts at the odd-even plan came in December 2015 and April 2016. Schools were closed through much of both of these two-week windows.
The significant number of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses that had been contracted out to schools were brought into the public transport network to cater to the increased load caused by half the cars staying off the roads.
But schools do not stay shut indefinitely. And when they do reopen, they will need buses to ferry children around the city.
The second major factor that is sure to throw the metropolis off-balance is the fact that the odd-even scheme is extended to Noida, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, and Muzaffarnagar. Any deficiencies in public transport infrastructure, of which there are many, in any of these major economic centres is likely to amplify the ripple effect across the NCR.
The third major factor that is set to cause massive disruption across the city is the exemptions to the odd-even scheme. Earlier versions of the odd-even plan had seen exemptions for two-wheelers, women driving alone, cars with children in them and a number of other categories.
All these people will now have to use public transport too.
The increase in the number of people who cannot drive can be expected to add further strain to an already stressed system. The governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are yet to react and come out with plans to ensure their residents are not inconvenienced.