My wife and I stay at Mayur Vihar. And we have a routine of sorts. In the morning, we get into the car, drive down to Connaught Place, sit in the Starbucks in the outer circle for an hour and then work out what to do next. The odd-even scheme in Delhi has thrown a spanner of sorts in the works, as we have an even-numbered car. We normally hop into public transport — the Metro generally — for odd numbered days. I always felt that the difference in time taken in travelling by the Metro and by the Car was minimal. The Better Half disagreed and so on April 23, an odd day, we decided to head to the Starbucks in different ways — she would take the car (women in cars are allowed on the roads) and I would take the Metro.
We started off at 12:49 in the afternoon. She was driving from home. I would have to walk about half a kilometre to the Metro station. I got off to a slightly better start as she was stuck at the colony gate leading out to the main road and had to get past a stack of rickshaws. However, she had passed me with a cheery wave when I was still about a hundred yards from the Metro station. And well, she was a good three and a half kilometres ahead by the time I had got into the Metro (having had to wait about four minutes at the station for the train to turn up).
And then the momentum shifted.
For, even though the roads were relatively clear and she had a relatively clear run — she encountered only one long traffic light (72 seconds near Tilak Bridge) — the Metro simply kept gaining. So much so that we reached Connaught Place at almost the same time — she was turning at the Barakhamba Road parking even as I got out at the Barakhamba Road Metro Station. And by the time she had parked, taken her parking ticket and had made her way to Starbucks, I was already there — had beaten her by three clear minutes, arriving at 1:23 as compared to 1:26 by She Who Must Be Obeyed.
The math was simple:
I had spent about 17 minutes in the Metro.
She had spent about 29 minutes in the car.
I had spent about 11 minutes walking. She had spent eight. (I do walk faster and am about a foot taller).
I had spent about six minutes at the station, and I suspect she spent about five minutes in the parking.
Of course, this was just one day. And one of many routes in Delhi. But it did involve one of Delhi’s most notorious ‘jammy’ areas: the ITO crossing, and the wife did get past it relatively smoothly, and in fact encountered very little of the usual traffic mess that defines the area (whether it was because of the odd-even policy or just a coincidence is another story). And I still got there ahead of her.
The Metro’s frequent stops might get on your nerves — some of the stations seem to be barely a kilometre or two apart — but all said and done, they are fewer than the number of times your car will have to stop on the road in an increasingly congested city. And when the Metro moves, it is much faster than a car — it took about 17 minutes to cover the distance my wife took almost 25 minutes to cover in her car (and while she does not speed, she is not a tortoise either). And of course, while you do have to encounter a certain amount of push and shove in the Metro, that is offset by the honking, swearing, veering that marks the capital’s roads.
The conclusion is simple: If you are travelling across a long distance (anything more than 10 kilometres) in Delhi and your destination is within a kilometre of a Metro station, opt for the Metro rather than a car if speed is of the essence.