Friday, January 1, 2016

The Economics of ODD-EVEN rule in Delhi




So here comes the new year, so what is new about the new year except that it is a new year 2016? New resolutions, new hopes , new plans, not just at the personal level but also at the national level. And when it comes to the national level, the newest in the block is the odd-even formula devised (but not the original) by the Delhi chief minister, applicable to all the private vehicle (read car ) owners in Delhi. Oh, I just remember that I have a new year party to attend tonight. Before I plan for what to wear, and what to carry, I have to look at my car's registration number. Thankfully, it is an odd number, which means I do not have to struggle to reach to the venue. But the party is supposed to run till the wee hours, and what if I get stuck with a flat tyre or a broken car. I must leave my car there and then, and hire a cab, or a public transport, because the calendar would have changed to January 2, and I am not allowed to drive my "Odd" vehicle on an even day (riders applicable).

So, here comes the plethora of all the possibilities that one can imagine in the wildest dreams. Just a month ago, wassapp and social networking sites were flooded with satirical versions of the Even-Odd formula. Sure enough we do care about the environment, and the deteriorating quality of air, but when it comes to finding a solution to the problem, the Odd-even formula does not seem to be a very good fit for a state like Delhi. There are several reasons why. Primarily , the Delhi public transport system is not well equipped to serve the rise of public traffic during the period the new rule is in effect. The Delhi metro is already over-crowded and over congested even during the normal days, that there is not even enough room for the general public to plant their feet in it. Secondly, the number of buses connecting different routes is not enough to bear the extra burden of the people who would want to opt for it, in the absence of private vehicles.
The odd-even rule will empower the private cab drivers or rather bring about perfect competition in the Auto rickshaw category. They will gain the absolute power to demand the fare they want. It may also lead to cartelization unless there is a regulatory authority to watch out.

The next big question is- who is going to be the most affected by this? Like any other rule, the middle class will face the brunt, because the upper middle class is most likely two possess more than 1 car and the probability of having another car with a complementary registration number would be 1/2 .
The bike owners, ministers, VIPs, women and people with medical emergency are exempted from this. However, how is it possible to judge whether someone is going to hospital or not,

Where do the trucks driving on national highway go? Are they not contributing to environmental pollution? Since the rule is in effect from 8am to 8 pm, so can we expect traffic snarls and jams post 8 pm.

The odd even theory may have worked successfully in other countries but this is not definitely the right time to implement it in Delhi. The government should work towards  developing the public transport and infrastructure first, . Government has not rolled out the estimated number of buses for the public, but is expecting the public to travel by buses and car pools (again a bad idea for a place which is unsafe ,especially for women). I personally would'nt opt for car pooling, that leaves me with no better option than travelling by metro and squeezing in between people.

I wish Delhi chief minister was more tactical, original and logical, and focus should have been more on a feasible solution than just a temporary resolve. With the crippled transport system in Delhi (and elsewhere), do not expect people to leave their personal vehicles. Churn out more metros, smart buses, safer cab system, and then we might just think of it.

Moral of the story for Delhi chief : Imitate only what can be imitated. Do your ground work before blindly following a foreign country.

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