A look at Google maps on Tuesday said it all. A majority of routes criss-crossing the Capital appeared in dark red, a warning sign of heavy traffic congestion.
According to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), traffic congestion on Delhi roads has worsened over the years. The study said that traffic ‘rush hour’ extended from 8 am to 8 pm on arterial roads of Delhi, with average speeds not exceeding 30 kmph 92% of the time.
Currently, congestion on Delhi roads is growing at 7 per cent annually. About 537 cars and 1,158 two-wheelers are added every day on the roads, said CSE report.
The survey, undertaken using Google Maps, was based on data collected for every hour between 8 am to 8 pm in the month of June.
Delhi Traffic – Key findings
1. No non-peak hour now
The is virtually no difference in time taken to travel between peak and non-peak hours. Average traffic speed on 13 arterial roads 50-60 per cent lower than their design speed and 35-48 per cent lower than the regulated speed of 40-50 km/hour
2. Weekend traffic is higher
Surprisingly, the study also found that traffic congestion was higher during weekends when average peak speed dropped to 25 kmph. The average peak speed noted during weekends is 25 km/hr which is lower than the weekday speed of 26 km/hr. This even drops to 8 km/hr on Sri Aurobindo Marg and 9 km/hr on Mehrauli Badarpur road during peak hours. Evening peaks are worse during weekends – 21-23 km/hr in contrast to 25-27 km/hr on working days. While the average traffic speed on Saturday is 21 km/hour, on Sunday it improves slightly to 23 km/hour but remains still worse than weekdays. This clearly shows that use of personal vehicles increases significantly during weekends.
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3. Lutyen’s Delhi
In contrast, Lutyen’s Delhi without big arterial roads has better speed and time-saving as well as well defined peak and non-peak hours. The average traffic speed in Lutyen’s Zone, which has primary arterial roads with widths up to 50 meters, is considerably higher. The average peak hour speed is 44 km/hr — almost 40 per cent higher than on other arterial roads. The average off-peak speed is 52 km/hr, which is almost double of other arterials.
4. Congestion impact on the economy
According to a study by IIT Madras, the estimated annual congestion cost in 2013 was Rs 54,000 crore. This is 12.5 per cent higher than Delhi’s total annual budget for the year 2017-18. This will increase to Rs 90,000 crore a year by 2030. This is expected to get worse, especially as Delhi has now crossed the 10-million mark of total vehicle registrations.
5. Traffic congestion impact on air
Air pollution increases with congestion. When average morning peak hour speed of 28 km/hr drops to 25 km/hr during evening peak, nitrogen dioxide levels increase by 38 per cent. CPCB’s real time monitoring data for NO2 from Anand Vihar, R K Puram, Mandir Marg and Punjabi Bagh shows that when the average morning peak speed of 28 kmph drops to 25 in the evening, NO2 levels increase from 68 micrograms per cubic metre to 94 -a rise of 38%.
“If not addressed immediately, Delhi will merely run to stand still. This is an inevitable consequence of explosive and unrestrained vehicle numbers that have crossed the mark of 10 million in 2017. The numbers are further inflated by daily influx of vehicles from outside Delhi. With a further drop in car prices under GST, car congestion will only grow,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE.
Traffic decongestion – a priority for Delhi government?
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had Tuesday expressed concern over traffic congestion. “In the past, the approach has been haphazard and random, to say the least. The state of affairs cannot be allowed to remain as it is at the moment. We need systematic and planned efforts to ease the burden on the commuter,” he said.
The chief minister said the reasons for traffic congestion in several parts of Delhi could be due to encroachments, poor traffic management, bad road design, enforcement, among others.
In response, L-G Anil Baijal wrote a letter to the chief minister stating that the task forces conducted extensive field visits and submitted a list of 77 corridors of which 28 were identified as Category-A Priority corridors. Baijal has also sent a list of 28 priority traffic corridors to Kejriwal.
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Baijal says five major corridors for immediate action on a pilot basis were also identified– Aurobindo Marg (Aurobindo Marg to Andheria More), Mathura Road (Neela Gumbad to Badarpur Flyover), Savitri Flyover (Chirag Delhi Crossing to Savitri Flyover), Sardar Patel Marg, (11 Murti to Rajokari Border) and Dhaula Kuan, (Dhaula Kuan Flyover to GGR Flyover, Sanjay T- Point).