Delhi has become progressively congested due to an increased reliance on private vehicles and as a result of its position as a seamless city with the inflow of traffic from rapidly growing towns in neighboring states. Additional time spent in traffic also has consequences for air quality due to increased idling emissions and has led to the reversal of air quality gains that the city had previously achieved through effective pollution control measures.
Therefore, it is necessary to target vehicular pollution through policies aimed at reducing the proliferation of vehicles in the National Capital Territory. EPIC India aims to study whether behavioral nudges/financial disincentives can allow drivers to internalize their marginal contribution to pollution/congestion and therefore result in changing driving behaviors. Researchers have proposed a congestion and pollution management framework to alleviate adverse implications from the transport sector – the High Pollution Early Warning System (HPEWS). HPEWS will essentially target driving behaviors and is an untapped and cost-effective transportation strategy with the potential to limit the usage of private vehicles, shift trips to off-peak times, smoothen traffic flow, and reduce air pollution. Additionally, HPEWS promotes long-term behavioral changes by incentivizing drivers to internalize their marginal contributions towards congestion and pollution.
HPEWS will be implemented at 13 peripheral locations of Delhi and will eventually be scaled up internally at congestion and pollution hotspots in the capital city. HPEWS infrastructure will target drivers through information-based as well as price-based nudges to encourage shifts to lower pollution times. This framework is dynamic because prices can be raised, lowered, or set at zero in a fully flexible manner. They can vary by vehicle type, across days, and across hours within the day. This makes the congestion and pollution management framework dramatically more flexible than prior transportation policy such as the Odd-Even scheme that have been shown to reduce pollution but are hard to implement quickly and involve significant inconvenience and inflexibility for the public.