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Public Transport Needs of the Urban
Poor in Delhi, India
D AC Maunder
Berkshire RG45 6AU
Development PA1 162/86, MAUNDER, D A C, (1 986). Public transport needs of the urban poor in Delhi,
India. CODA TU. Third Conference on Urban Transport in Developing countries, Cairo, 20 -23
January 1986. Paris: Conferences sur le Developpment et l'Amenagement des Transports
Urbaines dans les Pays on Developpement. Public Transport Needs Of The Urban Poor in D A C Maunder
Delhi, India Senior Scientific
Transport & Road
Settlement of the low income community to distant city fringes has become an all.
too frequent occurrence in the Third World at the present time. Yet this
policy decision has far reaching and lasting implications for both the urban
poor community and operators of public transport services.
The paper discusses the transport implications of an enforced relocation
settlement policy in Delhi, India where the travel demands of relocated low
income communities are contrasted and compared with higher income groups.
Effects of income and residential location on trip rates and travel patterns
Basic modelling procedures suggest that travel demand (especially for public
transport services)' could be considerably reduced by more prudent resettlement
policies and land use development.
L establissement des communautes e~conomiquement faibles en bordure 'eloign-ee
des villes est devenu un fait qui n~est que trop fr'equent a pr'esent dans le
Tiers Monde. Et pourtant, cette de'ision politique a des implications durables
de grande port~!e en ce qui concerne les communautbs urbaines pauvres et les
entreprises de transports publics.
Cette communication discute les implications pour les transports d'tnepolitique
de replacement obligatoire des habitations 1 Delhi, dans 11Inde, o~i lon compare
et fait ressortir le contraste entre les demandes de transport des communaut~es
economiquement faibles replac'ees avec celles des groupes a'revenue plus -eleve-.
On souligne les effets du revenu et de lemplacement r~sidentiel sur le taux
des de'placements et la re'partition des voyages.
Les techniques de mode'lisation fondamentales suggerent que la demande de
transport (particulie~rement les services de transports publics) pourrait '~tre
conside'rablement re~duite gr~ace a des politiques plus prudentes de transfert de
population et grAce au de'veloppement de lutilisation du sol. 1
Public Transport of the Urban Poor D A C Maunder
in Delhi, India Senior Scientific Officer
Transport & Road Research
It has been estimated that by the year 2000 approximately 50 per cent of
the world's population will be living in urban areas. over two thirds of this
urban population will be living in cities of the Third World that presently
experience great difficulty in feeding, housing and transporting the millions
that already live there. The urban population explosion taking place in the
Third World (and projected for the future) is the result of high birth rates,
falling death rates, improved medical facilities and migration from rural areas.
In India the present average annual urban growth rate of 3.8 per cent is more
than twice that of rural areas.
As the urban population increases, most of the additional population will
be from the poorest sections of the community who will become an ever increas-
ing proportion of the urban community. many who live as squatters on pavements,
roadsides, river arnd railway banks etc are often moved out to the periphery of
cities into resettlement areas. Similarly those migrating to the city mainly
from rural areas are usually confined to similar locations. Public transport
services then have to be provided at a cost that they can afford which generally
leads to high levels of fare subsidies. By the relocation of low income groups
to sites distant from the city centre, transport mobility and accessibility are
reduced, travel times and distances increased and additional expenditure incur-
red to meet basic travel needs (even when public transport fares are heavily
subsidised) . This contrasts with life within the city centre as squatters in
close walking proximity to most amenities and work places. It is unlikely that
factors such as reduced mobility/accessibility of low income communities or the
added burden of providing additional public transport services (in addition to
other infrastructural services) are seriously considered by city administrators
when relocating squatters to areas distant from the city centre. For example,
during 1975/77 thousands of squatters/migrants living in the central areas of
Delhi, India were moved to resettlement camps located between 15-30 kilometres
from the city centre. As a consequence these low income communities became
institutionalised and at present, 34 resettlement camps/colonies now contain
over 1.5 million residents representing about 20 per cent of the total.
population of the city. Gradually basic services such as water, sanitation,
street lighting and domestic electricity have been supplied. Public transport
services had to be provided immediatel~y in order to move the residents to and
from the city centre giving the Del-hi Transport Corporation (DTC), who provide
services throughout the city, considerable problems.
This paper presents results of surveys conducted in Delhi, during 1979/82
into the travel patterns of different socio-economic groups and the way in which
their'travel needs are provided. (1,2,3) The findings are used to determine how
residential location, household income and both private and public transport
provision affect trip rates, travel patterns and modal choice. Results of the
surveys have been used to derive basic models so that both public transport 2 ~~~~~~D A C Maunder
operators and planners have a clearer understanding of the travel needs and
requirements of a cross section of the population of Delhi but particularly
those of the low income community living considerable distances from the city
centre. The general insights provided should be of interest to urban transport
and land use planners and other professionals concerned with mobility, accessi-
bility and planning in cities in the developing world.
2. SURVEY ARE~AS OF DELHI
Delhi, with a population of 6.1 million, is one of the largest cities in
India. It is the capital of India and the seat of government and is situated
within the, northern plain beside the river Jainuna.
Detailed home interviews were Conducted in Delhi in six different residen-
tial areas or colonies; information was collected on trip rates, travel patterns
and basic socio economic characteristics of the households. The six areas
surveyed were two low income resettlement colonies, (Nand Nagri and Dakshin
Puni), three upper-middle income colonies, (West Patel Nagar, Saket and Janak-
puri) and one lower-middle income unauthorised colony, (Shakarpur). All six
areas differ in terms of distance from the central area and household income of
residents (see Table 1). In addition to these six areas, squatters located in
and around the city centre were studied to extend the data base to include
centrally located low-income housing groups.
Distance from city centre and household income of study areas: Delhi
Average Road distance from city centre
monthly househol'd __________
income* 'near' 'middle' 'far''
(between 6 and 7 kin) (14-15 kmn) (22-24 kin)
Low(SutesDasi Pui Nn Nar (less than Rs 500/600) (qatr)DkhnPn Wn ar
Upper-middle Ws ae aa ae aapr (Rs 1001-2500/3000) Ws ae aa ae aapr
*Note: In April 1982 the £ sterling was equivalent to 17 Rupees.
3. PUBLIC TRANSPORT SUPPLY
Transport services consist of conventional stage buses operated by the
Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), taxis, auto and cycle rickshaws, horse drawn
tongas, motorcycle 'phut phuts' and privately owned and operated charter buses.
The DTC (a Central Government Undertaking) provides a network of bus services
to all areas of the city. The privately operated transport services tend to be
operated only to and from higher income residential area~s where there is suffi-
cient demand for such services. This is shown in Table 2.
In the two low income resettlement colonies only a few privately operated
modes exist; these are cycle rickshaws, horsedrawn tongas and autorickshaws.
In all four middle income colonies cycle rickshaws, autorickshaws, taxis and
2 3 ~~~~~~D A C Maunder
Privately operated public transport provision: all survey areas
(ncome) Nand Dakshin Shakarpur Janakpuri West Patel Saket
Nagri Puri Nagar
Mode (low) (low) (lower (upper (upper (upper middle) middle) middle) middle)
Autorickshaws -12 10 50 30 15
Cycle rickshaws few few 20 75-100 - few
Tongas 50 few 10 few - -
Taxis - -6 25 20 28
Charter buses -- 2-5 100+ 15-20 10
charter bus services are operated both within the colonies and to/from other
locations in Delhi. Charter buses are contracted by groups of local residents
to provide services to and from the central business area during peak travel
times. Thus higher income communities appear to enjoy a higher level of priva-
tely operated public transport provision.
The DTC provides conventional stage bus services to all six colonies; Table
3 summarises the different levels of supply.
DTC conventional stage bus service provision: all survey areas
Sericeproisin Nand Dakshin Sa rprJnkuiWest Patel Sae
Routes operated 7 14 19 23 44 9
Routes per 1,000
population 0.1 0.2 0.5 0.2 0.7 0.2
Buses scheduled 41 85 110 140 261 50
Buses per 1,000
population 0.8 1.3 2.7 1.4 4.3 1.4
Not all routes service colonies directly; many routes, especially to
Shakarpur and West Patel Nagar, provide services along boundary roads 'en route'
to other parts of Delhi. These two colonies have a comparatively high level of
service provision compared with the other colonies because they are centrally
located and sited along major travel corridors.
In terms of conventional stage buses there does appear to be a relationship
between distance from the central area and service provision ie less public
transport as---distance from the central area increases. In addition, the number
of actual buses operated does tend to be less to lower income colonies than to
similarly located middle income colonies even though low income residents are
likely to be more dependent on the bus service than middle income residents who
have (as seen above) a wider and more varied choice of public transport.
It is worth noting that the DTC revenue cost ratio has deteriorated rapidly
over the total route network from 0.76:1 in 1979 to 0.39:1 in 1984. The ratio
for the routes servicing the six study areas has similarly declined. The DTC
incurs margina-lly heavier losses on routes to low income communities than to
similarly located middle income residential areas. 4 D A C Maunder
4. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF HOUSEHOLDS
Household size varies little between the six colonies, the averages being
between 4.4 and 5.4 persons. The average number of students per household ranges
from zero for squatters (their life style does not encourage schooling) to 1.9
for Shakarpur households. The number of employed persons ranges from 1.4 in
Saket, Dakshin Puni and Shakarpur households to 1.8 in squatter households.
Appendix 1 shows the distribution of monthly household income observed in the
sample of households interviewed.
Household monthly incomes range from £18 in squatter households to £150 in
upper middle income colonies. Over one third of squatter households had less
than Rs 200 a month (£11.75) on which to exist and in other 1ow income colonies
up to 6 per cent of households also existed on this amount of income.
Household heads were asked to estimate how much -the household
spent per month on transport. Figure 1 shows the distribution of reported
transport expenditure (all modes) by income category for all six survey areas.
At low incomes (less than Rs 600 and representing between 3 to 81 per cent of
households interviewed in the four colonies of Nand Nagri, Shakarpur, Dakshin
Puni and Saket) the level of expenditure is considerable, ranging between ?7-37
per cent of household income: the rate quickly declines, however, to around 5
to 15 per cent over the income range of Rs 600-4,000. In West Patel Nagar and
Janakpuri a more even relationship is observed ranging from 17 per cent at low
income levels to 8-10 per cent at incomes of Rs 4,000. Thus, in all areas above
a certain income level tranpsort expenditures are broadly similar in percentage
terms irrespective of household income, suggesting the existence of a constant
or near-constant travel budget (once a threshold income of about Rs 600 is
Although relative transport expenditures are fairly similar over a wide
income range the level of mobility and modal choice dif fer widely due to such
factors as personal vehicle ownership, access to public transport service
provision and level of trip making activity. Table 4 shows the level of
personal vehicle ownership in each colony and the categorisation of households
by actual vehicle owned (though some households obviously possess more than one
vehicle or type of vehicle).
Household vehicle ownership levels
(income) Nand Dakshin Shakarpur Janakpuri West Patel Saket
Per- ~~Nagri Puni Nagar
centage ~(low) (low) (lower (upper (upper (upper
of house- middle) middle) middle) middle)
any vehicle 29 62 59 62 59 77
cycle 28.5 59 49 34 30 18
motorcycle 0.5 2 18 38 35 51
car 1 3 5 6 29
In five of the survey areas over 50 per cent of households have some form
of vehicle, but only 29 per cent of households in.Nand Nagri and less than 10
per cent of squatter households have a vehicle. Not surprisingly the type of
vehicle owned varies substantially between different communities. For example,
almost all personal vehicles owned by low income households are cycles, whereas 5 ~~~~~~D A C Maunder
in Saket personal vehicles tend to be motorcycles and cars. This suggests a
correlation between vehicle type, ownership and household income, with low in-
come households being more likely to possess cycles and middle income house-
holds a motorised vehicle. Figure 2 illustrates this relationship and curves
having been generated by combining the vehicle ownership figures for each colony.
5. HOUSEHOLD TRAVEL DEMAND
5.1 Trip Rates
Details of all trips undertaken daily by household members were obtained
by personal interview, and trips were categorised into the following purposes:
(i) educational, (ii) employment and (iii) 'other' including social/leisure
trips and trips by housewives.* Figure 3 shows that the majority of trips in
all areas were for employment and educational purposes, particularly in low in-
come households. In higher income areas however, almost 20 per cent of trips
were for 'other' activities, mainly social/leisure pursuits.
The overall average daily trip rate per household in the six areas ranges
from 5.1 to 8.5 with the trip rate for squatter households being 4.0. The trip
rate per capita (see Figure 4) ranges from 1.0 in Nand Nagri to 1.6 in both
Saket and Shakapur; the rate is 0.8 for squatter households. There is thus
evidence that residents of low income colonies make fewer trips than those in
middle income colonies. Furthermore, location also appears to have an effect
on trip making, residents in colonies located at the periphery of the city tend-
ing to make fewer trips than those (of similar income) living close to the city
centre. Figure 5 illustrates the distribution of daily trip rate per capita by
income category. In general the figure shows an upward trend in trip rates as
household income increases. This income effect on trip making seems to be
associated largely with increased educational and other activities in more
affluent communities as shown in Figure 3.
In order to determine further the effect of location on the level of trip
making, trip rates were combined for residential colonies located similar dist-
ances from the city centre. Thus a composite trip rate was obtained for each
distance category by income and the results are shown in Figure 6. The combined
'far' locations of Nand Nagri and Janakpuri have considerably lower trip rates
for given income levels ~than the more centralised locations. There is little
difference observed between the 'near' and 'mid' locations except at the extremes
of income level.
Figure 6 implies that households in colonies more than 15 kilometres from
the city centre are likely to have trip rates which are up to 30 per cent lower
than those closer to the city centre. From Figure 6 it is possible to make some
estimates of trip rate elasticities with respect to income. The shape of the
curves in both Figures 5 and 6 suggest that the elasticity is likely to be higher
for low income households in all six colonies than for higher income households.
Table 5 shows estimated values of trip rate elasticities for three income
*Note, housewives in India do not escort their children to school to any
significant extent. This would not necessarily be the case in other parts of
the developing world.
5 6 D~~~~~~ A C Maunder
Trip rate elasticities with respect to household income
Residential locations Residential locations
Income range less than 15 kms greater than 15 kms
from the CBD from the CBD