A recent economic survey of Delhi puts the number of cars, motorcycles, scooters and auto-rickshaws on the city’s roads at more than 7.5 million in 2011-12, up from around 3.2 million in 1999-2000.
The result: during the office rush hours, the city’s roads are clogged with vehicles of various shapes and sizes vying with one another to inch ahead.
Until recently, there was no alternative to braving the congested streets, whether one drove, hailed a cab or used public transport. But that has been changing as the Delhi Metro, the city’s underground and overground rail system, expands.
It has been over a decade since the first trains began operating and today, though large sections of the city are still absent from the network, the system is broad enough to accommodate most journeys in and around central Delhi, and many journeys beyond that. Work, meanwhile, is underway on the next phase, which will further broaden the Metro map.
The trains are clean and air-conditioned. The carriages are significantly wider than those on the London Underground and the tickets are a bargain (and compared to London, cost nothing). A one-way journey from Rajiv Chowk (or Connaught Place) in New Delhi to Chandni Chowk in old Delhi cost me Rs. 10. That’s about 10p, and half of what it cost to take a cycle-rickshaw from the Chandni Chowk station to Red Fort, a journey of around a kilometre.
So next time you’re in town, ditch the taxi and ignore the auto-rickshaw if you can.