AS THE curtains come down on round two of the odd-even road space rationing scheme, the Delhi government is in a quandary. While it ponders whether it should implement the scheme through the year or shift tactics to combat the problem of air pollution, preliminary data from an MIT research project on the odd-even scheme may hold some insights.
The MIT study, organised by High compliance, but more commuters switched to second car, says study the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia and funded and supported by the International Growth Centre (IGC India), focuses on traffic congestion and driver behaviour, and uses Google Maps travel time queries and phone surveys with at least 1,000 randomly selected drivers in Delhi.
Analysis of the data from this research project was published in The Indian Express after the first round of the road rationing policy between January 1 and January 15.
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Gabriel Kreindler, a doctoral candidate studying urban transportation in the economics department at MIT, is leading a second study on the odd-even policy in Delhi. “We have continued to collect data through surveys and Google Maps since the scheme began on January 1. There are differences between the first and second phases of the scheme,” said Kreindler.
Preliminary analysis showed that while traffic congestion eased considerably between April 15 and April 30 as compared to the weeks in between, more households switched to other cars or taxis on days their own vehicles were restricted.
The project includes a sample of 920 commuters — male, diesel/ petrol car owners and regular users — at randomly selected petrol pumps in Delhi. Regular surveys were conducted with the commuters by phone, on both odd and even days. At least 3,000 phone surveys were completed in January and April, before and during odd-even 2.0.
The data shows higher compliance of the scheme compared to January. While 17.5 per cent of respondents violated the policy in January, in April the number dropped to 9.5 per cent. In the week before the odd-even scheme was implemented, 48.8 per cent had used their cars regularly.
The reasons for non-compliance included commuting before 8 am and after 8 pm to avoid the policy, travel within their housing blocks and travelling out of Delhi, in that order.
Data also shows that some commuters used another car — possibly borrowed or bought — or switched to taxis and auto rickshaws instead of buses and the Metro. While 6.9 per cent of respondents said they switched to another household car in January, in April that number rose to 18.8 per cent. Fewer commuters switched to two-wheelers — while 15.8 per cent of those surveyed used a two-wheeler in January, 12.7 per cent took to two-wheelers in April.
Meanwhile, respondents who switched to taxis or auto rickshaws stayed the same — 11.8 per cent in January compared to 10.8 this time. However, while fewer car owners restricted by the scheme moved to buses and the Metro compared to January, the data showed a significant increase compared to the week before the scheme was implemented.
According to the data collected, travel time across Delhi was similar or moderately faster than in January. Respondents were asked if they experienced congestion on the roads before and during the odd-even scheme. While 27.2 per cent stated they faced congestion in the week before the scheme, that number dipped to 7.9 per cent on restricted days.
The data also showed that commuters cut back on trips on days their cars were restricted — 62 per cent of respondents made trips on days their cars were restricted in April compared to 72 per cent in January.