In August last year, hundreds of commuters in Hyderabad came together and decided to do something against the growing vehicle density in the city's IT Corridor.
A campaign called 'Car-free Thursday' was started amid much fanfare and saw thousands of cars owned by IT professionals off the roads, for many Thursdays to come.
The initiative called for people traveling to or from the areas of Hitech City, Madhapur and Gachibowli IT Hub to leave their vehicles behind, and travel in more sustainable choices like bicycles, buses, trains (MMTS), shared auto-rickshaws, and use carpooling.
It was also backed by the Telangana government which pressed many extra buses into service, to ply along those routes and encourage public transport.
However, more than a year later, the initiative has seemingly lost steam.
The last update on the initiative was in August, when it completed one year, with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) launching a public bicycle sharing scheme.
Though there are many individuals who still remain true to the spirit every Thursday, there is no denying that the initial enthusiasm has subsided.
"Car Free Thursdays is a social initiative. No one has funded it, and we have no monetary backers. I would argue that we have started a discussion and created awareness among people, which is often the goal of such initiatives," says Vishala, one of the core team members of the initiative.
"Of course, there is a lot more than can be done, but we would need the help of the Telangana government for it. The spirit is still there," she adds, giving the example of an IT professional who cycled 23 kms to work last Thursday.
Vishala also adds that around 90% of the people in the IT corridor are aware of the initiative and unofficial surveys have shown an increase in carpooling.
When asked about what can be done to rejuvenate interest, she says "We have a few ideas and we have submitted a road map to the state government."
"We can create a lot of awareness, but we will need help when it comes to sustaining the initiative. For example, the chief minister can talk about it, even if it is only for a short period of time. This will get more people willing to volunteer and participate," she adds.
A lot of start ups have been doing their bit. Commut, a minibus shuttle service, operates air conditioned shuttles along popular routes, at a high frequency.
(Image - Facebook/Commut)
The company, which just turned a year old, started with 2 bookings and a single cab, but claims to have 17000+ registered users today, which takes a great load off Hyderabad roads everyday.
There are also Hyderabad based ride-sharing apps like Zify, which promotes car-owners with empty seats to carpool passengers verified by the app, who are travelling in the same direction.
More commute options for travelers like cycling, MMTS, or even taking an RTC bus, with the time schedule for these modes of transport, can be found here.
At present, there is more need than ever for these initiatives in the city, as recent reports suggest that traffic is moving at a snail's pace, with people spending several hours of their everyday routine stuck in slow-moving traffic.
When asked if the bad roads in Hyderabad were a cause of concern, Vishala says, "Of late, the government has been asking us to wait till they repair the roads, but these are two different issues."
"There will always be suggestions for improving infrastructure. We are asking for improvement of public transport. The government can work with IT companies and come out with policies that incentivise people who cycle or carpool to work," she says.
"Cutting down parking spaces on the road, and sensitizing employees on the issues we are facing will also work," she adds.