Good in short-term, needs minor tweaks: Experts on odd-even pollution rule

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New Delhi, Dec 8: Urban mobility experts see sagacity in the AAP government's decision on road rationing echoing arguments that invoking such restrictions, with minor tweaks, are needed in the short term, also to put across the message that car users are a "heavily subsidised" lot.

However, they contended that several other measures in the medium term and long term, towards rapid strengthening of public transportation are needed in order to reach a stable situation and reduction in pollution levels.

'Needs minor tweaks in odd-even rule'

According to Raj Cherubal, Director-Projects, Chennai City Project, plying of odd and even numbered vehicles every alternate day would lead to a "dramatic" decrease in congestion during the peak pollution months. "Double or triple your bus fleet.

Increase your feeder system dramatically to connect to main trunks and Metro. But it's very easy to harp on long-term solutions but if short term measures such as this are not supported then whole point is lost," Cherubal, who has pioneered 'car-free' days in Chennai said.

He rued that no one calculates and talks about "actual cost to taxpayer and losses" due to all the infrastructure given to private cars. "Real numbers should puncture some of the smugness and entitlement attitude."

Holding it as a step in the "right direction", India head of Institute for Transportation and Development Policy Shreya Gadepalli said that the odd-even system had been refined by cities like Bogota. Madhav Pai of EMBARQ seconded Gadepalli's argument.

"At least three cars are required to beat the system that allows only 40 per cent of vehicle on any given weekday in Bogota (vehicle numbers ending with 1,2,3,4 on Monday and so on). A robust IT based enforcement mechanism is required," Gadepalli said.

Pai says that other propositions like congestion tax being played around by naysayers of the odd-even decision as the cost of implementing such measures is high. A "paradigm shift" is needed in the transport sector, he said.

Car users will have to realise that they are being subsidised heavily and these measures are needed so that the message percolates down, Pai, who has authored 'Bus Karo' a guidebook on bus operations and planning, said, adding that in Bogota odd-even restrictions are enforced only during peak hours. "Impose parking surcharge and with that money build and subsidise public transport.

But that would need time. Even congestion pricing cost is really high. 40 to 50 per cent cost goes only in running the system. There should be short-term measures with commitment to long-term," he said.

PTI

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