02 January 2016 07:03:49 IST

The Capital’s real test lies ahead

Compliance to the rule will be tested when schools and offices re-open

It was a great day to be out on Delhi’s roads. Day one of the AAP government’s much-hyped odd-even experiment saw empty roads, light traffic and the rare luxury of travelling on public transport with seats free. One could easily walk into the general compartment of Metro trains without being sandwiched. Instead of begging and pleading with autowallahs to stop, one was desperately hailed by them as they appeared short of passengers. And the middle class that normally give buses a wide berth could be seen travelling in them.

The first day of the year in Delhi is wont to see deserted streets as citizens recover from New Year’s Eve party hangovers, but there was no denying that the Kejriwal government’s odd-even rule did have its share of impact on vehicular movement. In East and Central Delhi, only odd number plate cars were spotted though in posh South Delhi colonies, one saw a few swanky cars with even number plates on the road, as well as some ending with zero. Confusion on zero persisted despite AAP declaring it to be an even number.

Several AAP ministers were out on the streets taking stock. One ran into both Transport Minister Gopal Rai, in a DTC bus, as well as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, standing at the ITO crossing chatting with traffic police constables and commuters. Sisodia declared the plan a great success. Was it not too early in the day to make the claim, especially since schools were closed for the winter break and many in Delhi are out vacationing during the long weekend. “Let me assure you I will be touring the roads and personally monitoring the situation on January 15,” Sisodia retorted.

Traffic cops at most signals said not too many challans were issued, though there was a stir when Delhi BJP MP Satyapal Singh, a former Mumbai cop, was stopped at India Gate as he was travelling in an even number plate car. He said he belonged to the exempted category.

Former BJP MP Vijay Goel, however, cycled around the city. Despite the brilliant weather, not too many ordinary people cycled or walked, preferring to carpool or take the metro, though some Delhi University students pedalled to North campus in solidarity with the plan.

Some unhappy faces While commuters looked relieved at not facing too much discomfort, there were some unhappy faces. Autos and cabs that were expecting to do good business were taken aback by the lack of demand. Mangal Singh, an auto-rickshaw driver, said, “It looks like citizens are staying indoors.” Disgusted by 3 pm, he said he was calling it a day.

The real test will be on Monday, when the crowds will be back and office-goers return to their desks.