Rush hour in Delhi runs from 8 am to 8 pm, according to a report published by the Centre for Science and Environment on Monday. This means there is virtually no difference between peak and non-peak-hour traffic, it said.

The study was conducted based on hourly and daily travel time and speed obtained from Google Map data on 13 important stretches in the city. The data was monitored for 12 hours every day throughout the month of June.

In addition to the near-disappearance of off-peak hours, some of the findings include low traffic speeds, higher pollution, and greater traffic congestion on weekends.

Dip in average speed

The study found that the average speed on weekdays was 26 kmph. This is 50% to 60% lower than the standard speed set by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre. Researchers also found that there was a negligible variation in average speed between noon and 4 pm. The average morning and evening peak hour speeds were 28 kmph and 25 kmph, and the off-peak hour speed was 27 kmph.

Traffic at Lutyen’s Zone slightly better

However, the average traffic speed in the Lutyen’s Zone is considerably higher, the study found. While the average peak hour speed is 44 kmph, the off-peak speed is 52 kmph – almost double of that on other routes.

The congestion is more during weekends than weekdays as the average peak speed was noted to be 25 kmph. This drops to 8 kmph on Sri Aurobindo Marg and 9 kmph on Mehrauli Badarpur road during peak hours. “This clearly shows that use of personal vehicles increases significantly during weekends,” the study said.

Air pollution worsens

During peak hours, nitrogen dioxide levels increase from 68 microgramme/cubic metre to 94 microgramme/cubic metre based on Central Pollution Control Board’s real time monitoring data.

“In this pollution and congestion battle, both the Central and the state governments will have to recognise the implications of road infrastructure that gives priority to vehicles for overall motorisation and related problem of pollution, congestion and energy-guzzling,” the report said.

“If not addressed immediately, Delhi will merely run to stand still,” Anurita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy at CSE, said. “This is an inevitable consequence of explosive and unrestrained vehicle numbers that have crossed the mark of 10 million in 2017...With a further drop in car prices under the Goods and Services Tax, car congestion will only grow.”