Editorial Notes

Car Pool Lane formula: Concept & Feasibility in India

It is high time that the CPL facility is put in place in important, fast-growing urban areas across the country, in addition to or irrespective of the odd-even system.
By IT's Editorial Board
January 09, 2017


GS (M) Paper-3: “Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation”


Car Pool Lane formula: Concept & Feasibility in India


Pollution in Delhi is a growing emergency and could reach real dangerous levels if treated with the usual sluggish, ad hoc measures.

Present scenario:

  • There are an unstoppable number of private cars, adding their share of pollution to Delhi every day, while at the same time, the public transport system in the Capital is highly inadequate with a reported 50% shortage in buses.
  • Delhi government’s Odd-Even formula may not produce the intended results unless further options are explored.

Car Pool Lane can be adopted as it can help fight pollution and complement public transport.

What is Car Pool Lane formula?

  • The CPL formula, also known as the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) facility reserves one lane, the fastest, on selected roads for cars carrying more than one occupant.
  • Single occupant cars are thus confined to the remaining lanes.
  • The greater number gets priority. Not the affluent, opulent, single fellow traveller.


Global experiences:

  • This system was first applied, though not exactly as an alternative to the odd-even formula, in the US in 1969.
  • It continues to be in place in a number of other countries such as Canada, parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and China.
  • These countries have adopted the CPL to suit their varying needs; they have gradually evolved over time. 
  • The US and other countries impose very heavy fines on violators of the CPL. As the CPL will be applied to limited areas, monitoring arrangements through technology and manual checks can be effectively mounted.

Advantages of CPL:

  • The CPL encourages both even and odd numbered cars to carry more people and ensures them a speedier journey. Hence, a reduced number of cars on the road
  • It also encourages willing participation of car owners, thus promoting happy sharing and car-pooling.
  • In road-unsafe cities like Delhi, where unruly criss-cross driving is more of a rule, the car pool lane can provide a significant incentive toward cultivating a more civilised driving culture.

Interesting data:

A 2005 compilation in the US revealed interesting data: The HOV facility in the morning peak hours carried nearly 32,000 people in 8,600 vehicles when other lanes carried 23,500 people in 21,300 vehicles. The travel time was 29 minutes in the CPL as against 64 minutes in the other lanes

Is it feasible in India?

Author admits that

  • Implementing CPL in India is indeed a humongous task but ways can be explored and CPL can be out in place selectively.
  • In some of the more dense traffic cities, and in some of their zones covering important services and institutions, a beginning can be made. The nitty-gritty of such a system will need to be worked out.


  • To further facilitate the CPL and odd-even working, as well as fighting pollution, use of public transport can be made free of charge for a limited period when pollution attains uncontrollable levels, as Paris did recently.


There will be many doubts and difficulties, and as we move on, there would be matching answers and options to meet and smoothen the CPL process. For example,

  1. Whether the CPL should be enforced 24×7, or only on working days, or during certain designated hours?
  2. Whether to fix the minimum number of occupants in a car at two or more?
  3. Which other vehicles, like bikes, emergency vehicles, chartered buses can use the CPL?


It is high time that the CPL facility is put in place in important, fast-growing urban areas across the country, in addition to or irrespective of the odd-even system.

[Ref: Indian Express]

Source: Beyond Odd-Even


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