17/01/2016 2:35 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

C-Voter Survey: How Delhi Responded To The Odd-Even Rule

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 1: Less traffic seen on the roads on the first day of Delhi's Odd-Even Vehicle Plan, on January 1, 2016 in New Delhi, India. The odd-even scheme that allows odd and even-numbered private vehicles to ply on city roads on alternate days aims at reducing air pollution levels. All diesel and petrol cars, irrespective of where they are coming from, will have to follow the rules. If a car is coming from out of Delhi and is breaking the odd-even rule, a fine will be levied. The government has deployed hundreds of volunteers and 3000 buses to help traffic police. To clean the Capital's toxic air, only odd-numbered private cars will be allowed on the road on odd dates and even-numbered on even days. Violators face a fine of Rs. 2,000. (Photo by S Burrmaula/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Delhi, for all its infrastructure and global prominence, never matched up to the innovative policies adopted by other capitals of similar stature. The odd-even scheme of managing vehicular pollution and congestion, therefore, was a daring policy move in more ways than one. For a citizenry bound by an orthodox social contract between an individual and the state, it was unfathomable to expect support and participation in a policy move far removed from the 'Mai-Baap' matrix of governance.

In order to capture the mood on the streets, C-Voter undertook a tracker poll of Delhi over the two-week pilot run of odd-even policy, which ended on 15 December. The survey was conducted across a representative sample of 4,354 commuters (sample size: 1,656 in week 1 and 2,697 in week 2). Empirical evidence as per this survey indicates a firm support for the policy amongst Delhi's commuters and visible success of this measure.

Vehicular Usage

Thirty percent fewer cars were used by Delhi's commuters. However, two-wheeler usage went up by 14%. Bus and metro usage also underwent an increase of 14% and 58%, respectively. Clearly, the policy was able to keep off a significant number of cars from the roads of Delhi. Further to that, people did shift to other modes of transport belying the fears about civil disobedience by car owners.

Although the odd-even transport policy was envisaged with pollution reduction in mind a positive externality of this policy was transport efficiency.

Time Savings

Although the odd-even transport policy was envisaged with pollution reduction in mind, a positive externality of this policy was transport efficiency. Delhi commuters saved a huge amount of time during this period; an average two-wheeler using citizen saved 12 minutes of commute time daily. Those who travelled by cars were able to save 13 minutes from their commute. Surprisingly enough, bus and metro commuters were also able to shave off 14 and 12 minutes, respectively, from their commute time.

Modal Preference

The modal preference between the 1st and the 2nd week were different for Delhiites. Fewer people used metro in the 1st week (17%) than in the 2nd week (26%). Similarly, usage of two-wheelers declined to only 26% in the 2nd week compared to 42% in the 1st week. The usage of bus declined marginally by 3% between the 1st (23%) and the 2nd week (20%). Auto-wallahs were a happy lot in 2nd week as 13% Delhiites undertook auto journey in the 2nd week compared to only 2% in the 1st.

Delhi's Take on Policy

Only 26.5% Delhiites felt a great reduction in pollution, while 38% felt a limited reduction in pollution. Thus, when it came to the stated end-goal of the odd-even policy, the actual results were mixed. This has led to criticism in some quarters, directed at the efficacy of the policy vis-à-vis pollution.

Delhi commuters loved the reduction in commuting time and increased transport efficiency of the city.

However, in a rebound of sorts, a significant positive externality of the odd-even policy was reduced congestion in Delhi. 58% of Delhiites admitted to reduced traffic congestion "to a great extent" by the 2nd week, owing to the odd-even scheme. Delhi commuters loved the reduction in commuting time and increased transport efficiency of the city.

A steady 77-76% of Delhiites wished from their hearts for the success of odd-even scheme through both weeks. Indicative of wider public support for the odd-even scheme contrary to the reports of discontent about this policy. When asked to practically view the chances of success for this scheme, a steady 49% of Delhiites rated the scheme to be a great success across the two weeks. The number of those fearing to a great extent a purchase of a second car in the family owing to this scheme fell by a margin of 4% to 39%. In week 1, 56% Delhiites were happy to a great extent with the odd-even scheme, by the 2nd week this number increased to 60%. 82% Delhiites reported no difficulty owing to this scheme in the 1st week while a slightly lower 78% reported no difficulty in the 2nd week.

To conclude, Delhi commuters were largely satisfied and supportive of this innovative policy move the state government.

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