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How does India commute to work?  

With the current debate raging over Delhi metro fare hike and its feasibility, How India Lives takes a look at how Indians living in 8 mega-cities commute to work.

We analysed Census 2011 dataset for Indians who are neither employed in agriculture nor in household industries living in 8 of India’s biggest cities – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai.

A large proportion of them, ~36%, either live at their place of work, or have little to no distance to commute, while only ~20% commute more than 10 kilometres every day.

In India, traditional cities were developed in a way that required little or no commute as people chose to live close to work as long-distance commuting essentially impacted their earnings. This trend is clearly manifested in the visualization below, where close to three-quarters of all working people live within 10 kilometres of their workplace. Metro is mainly used for longer trips, with average trips close to 16 kilometres.

In the 8 cities, walking is still the most preferred mode of commuting, largely because of small distances to work. In Delhi-NCR, 22% walk to work and only a minuscule 3% take the train. Except Mumbai, where an equal proportion take the train and walk to work (25%), buses cater to the second largest proportion of people commuting to work. Given the length of the average commute even in top Indian cities, buses and other means of public transport cater to a much larger share of the population while receiving only a fraction of the total investments.

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How people in India’s top 53 cities commute to work – by gender, transport type and distance

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

A greater percentage of workers in Rajkot drive to work than in any other city. Half the people using public transport in Vasai Virar travel more than 20km—one way. As many as 71% of women workers in Agra don’t travel to work. One-third of women workers in Chandigarh drive to work, the highest among all cities in India.

Such findings can be gleaned from a recently-released data set by Census 2011 on the mode of transport that “other workers”—those not engaged in household industry or agricultural occupations—use to commute to work and the distance they travel.

The data interactive below takes part of that data set and tailors it to present the picture of work-related travel—or, non-travel in many cases—in India’s top 53 cities, each of which has a population of 1 million or more. The interactive lets you cut the data in multiple ways: by gender, by three modes of transport and by five distance buckets.

It’s a commentary on many things. How public transport is a failure: less than 20% of workers use it in 33 of these 53 cities, the two exceptions being Greater Mumbai region and Kerala cities. How private transport does not have the numbers—only a quarter to a third of a city’s citizens use it to travel to work—but receives the most attention. How the lack of adequate and diverse employment opportunities mean that several tier-II and tier-III cities are still largely about work-from-home options.

 

 

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