Friday, August 22, 2008

Delhi : Jammin'

I spent most of my time in Delhi on BRTC. 'Bread, Rice, Coffee and Tomatoes?' asked a friend. You wish.
BRTC is Delhi's Bus Rapid Transport Corridor. A good plan, but badly executed. It covers an almost 6km long stretch of road in densely populated South Delhi. It is supposed to be on trial. It is a trial - to commuters. Unfortunately for us, who are visitors to Delhi, it covered the distance between where we stay when we visit, and where our children live.
The idea of a dedicated bus corridor with well-built, comfortable buses that provide a regular service should have been put into practice long ago.See how good the new buses look?.
Delhi's public transport system has been in need of improvement since the 1970s, at least. Its buses have always been over-crowded, ramshackle, and irregular. Not to mention the horror stories of women commuters, or the number of people on the roads who are killed by rash bus drivers.

The BRTC is carved up into three lanes on either side of the central divider. 'These are as ugly as Kolkata's tramlines', said our friend Saumitro, 'but at least you can cut across those!' Cars far outnumber buses and two-wheelers in Delhi. They should have been provided with wider lanes for smoother and faster movement. Take a look at these deserted lanes. These are the lanes for buses and two-wheelers.

The BRTC idea is far better suited to Delhi than the Metro, says my brother.
'But how many years will it take us to learn discipline?' he adds. We still have a long way to go.

What’s worse than being stuck on the BRTC?
Listening to the bad jokes about BRTC.
However, when we saw this sign, that said, Delhi's Smart New Way to Travel' I couldn’t help adding 'Is To Stay in One Place'.
The driver of our auto rickshaw threw his head back and laughed in appreciation. He gave me a smiling salute at the end of our ride. Another day, we were saying how it would be realistic to celebrate one's birthday on the road, since no one could reach the party on time. At which that day's auto driver turned around to ask, 'Aaj aapka birthday hai?' (Is it your birthday today?) The husband said, 'Nahi, lekin aise baithhne se ho bhi jaayega' (If we sit long enough it will be my birthday soon). We were all fellow sufferers. The best crack came from one of the drivers himself. BRTC, he said, stood for 'Bahut Ruk ke Traffic Chalti hai' (I guess that would translate to But Really, Traffic Crawls. For us, who neither work nor live in Delhi, it was merely tedious. I felt for the cheerful three-wheeler drivers, who lost a lot of time - and fares - everyday. And almost forgave the surly ones who refused to take us.

5 comments:

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Good to see you back.

What you say about road travel in Delhi will make residents of C. V. Raman Road, Chennai, feel at home. People here can't even pull their vehicles out of their own gates!

I like the crack your husband made about celebrating birthdays in the autorickshaw.

Abhishek said...

Delhi is getting crowded not only on roads and rails but also in air. The last time when my friend was about to land in Delhi, his flight got delayed by almost an hour and all thanks to the air traffic which was too much to handle for the small airport. But lately I saw an video on UTVi (http://utvi.myrecourl.com), which says that Delhi Airport will be getting a third runway which will be the longest airstrip in Asia. Hopefully this will ease of some delays.

Mysorean said...

"Delhi's public transport system has been in need of improvement since the 1970s, at least".

I would say since 1960s. The year 1960. We a bunch of students rushing towards Teen Murthy Bhavan to meet Prime Minister Nehru. The appointment was at 8:00 am and the traffic was atrocious. Unfortunately we were misguided to take a bus which would drop us near PM'as residence and that was a blunder. Any way, we got off the bus and ran to keep the appointment which we did. Even then the public transport was unreliable. I do not know what difference Delhi Metro has made.
When China is mentioned, Indians and Indian politicians would like to mention India in the same breadth. China may be more poulated than India but Beijing Airport is connected to the city by superb multi-lane highways. One can reach destinations by taking Beijing public transport.
Delhi is the capital city of so-called 'sleeping giant'. The 'giant' will keep on sleeping while the capital's public transport goes from bad to worse to disaster to grinding halt, some say. No wonder China's olympic gold medal count is 47 against India's 1.

Mysorean said...

Sorry a typo. it should read 'breath'

Kamini said...

I wonder if Delhi's traffic woes will EVER get solved.
How long will those buses continue to look like that??
Only thing is to see the humour in the situation, I suppose!