Delhi Metro’s follow up strategy?

“I think Delhi Metro is responsible for reducing vehicular traffic”.” I think it is only a by-product of CWG. It will change right afterwards.” ” I think it is only getting the bus riders and two-wheel drivers off the streets, who weren’t the problem in the first place”. “I think older people are not going to change their way of life and continue to use their cars”. ” I think the youth is shifting to the Metro”. ” I think… “. I think I need to stop speculating and actually have facts to know what is actually happening. But how?

I want to know if the DMRC is maintaining records for its ridership. Who is using the metro and for what purpose? What are the age groups and genders of these riders? What are their occupations? Did they shift from being car owners/users before they shifted to the Metro or not, and why if they did? What proportion of people are regular travellers as compared to leisure riders? What are the stations most used and by what groups of people? Answering such questions is not only important but pertinent for managing future developments.

The answers to these can inform policy makers about where to focus their energies. They will clarify whether the Metro is actually bringing about the change as was imagined, and if not then help finding loopholes. It is only when we know the real problem/ issue that we could possibly find a solution for it – whether to focus on discouraging the use or ownership of cars, or to focus on further improving the service; whether to reserve more seats for women or just add more compartments to solve the problem of high traffic; whether to provide more parking spots outside stations or install a shuttle service. These answers can clearly help policy makers allocate the limited resources much more efficiently.

The question is how can DMRC help policy makers find these answers? By managing data. Collecting, analyzing and learning from data. But where can this data come from? By tracking people’s revealed preferences. If travel cards could be registered with a brief account about the riders including details such as : Age, Gender, Occupation, Residential and Official Address (maybe not income for it has an implicit danger that people may over/understate that), and once we have the unique IDs for all citizens, then maybe even those. Every time the card is used thereafter, that data can be associated with the ride, and can cumulatively be analysed for ridership characteristics.

This might be difficult to get for the token users, so they may be documented using their stated preferences. There could be surveys designed and conducted regularly and randomly to get a good picture of the context. These could be designed for specific issues or can be done broadly. Such surveys maybe logistically difficult and much more cumbersome than the earlier proposal, as they would require a new separate team and much more additional effort/manpower/resources as compared to the first option.

But whatever be the way (s)… this ought to be done. It is the only way to progress efficiently. We don’t have much to squander anyway.

[Please ignore the crude writing skill, but had to get it up. Please comeback again and I might update it 🙂 ]

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