Urban Mobility Expansion

  • IASbaba
  • November 9, 2022
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Context: The government has suggested preparing a road map to achieve an efficient and green transportation system in urban areas in line with the Panch Pran initiative during the 15th edition of the Urban Mobility India (UMI) Conference and Exhibition 2022 held in Kochi.

  • Around 50 percent of the population would be living in urban areas by 2047, therefore expansion of urban mobility is imperative for India to become a developed country by then.
  • The objective of the conference was to create a system that encourages people to switch from personal vehicles to public transport aligned with the government’s objective of ‘moving people rather than vehicles’.
  • 810 km of the metro line is operational in 20 cities and a network of more than 980 km and RRTS is currently under construction in 27 cities.
  • India currently has the fifth-largest metro network in the world and would soon overtake advanced economies such as Japan and South Korea to have the third-largest network.
  • These developments would lead to a significant reduction in traffic congestion and emissions concerns and an improvement in air quality.

Challenges faced by Urban Transport in India:

Unprecedented Transport Growth:

  • According to Niti Aayog, the number of registered motor vehicles has increased from 5.4 million in 1981 to 295 million in 2019.
  • This rapid growth in demand in the absence of a widespread public transport system has caused a rapid increase in private car ownership in India.

Inadequate Public Transport:

  • According to government data, there are about 19 lakh buses in the country and only 2.8 lakh of them are run either by state transport undertaking or under stage carriage permits.
  • China has about six buses for 1,000 people while India has only four buses per 10,000 people.

Urban Pollution:

  • According to a WHO study 14 out of the top 15 most polluted cities in the world belong to India.
  • Vehicular pollution has been one of the major contributors to rising urban air pollution in Indian cities along with other factors such as construction activity, road dust and industrial activity.

Urban Congestion:

  • Major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru are ranked among world’s most congested cities.
    • For example: Average speed for vehicles in Bengaluru is reported as 17 km/h.
  • These high levels of congestion have huge economic implications in the form of reduced productivity, fuel waste, and accidents. Further, there is an acute shortage of parking spaces both on and off the streets in the urban centres.

Road safety:

  • Traffic injuries and fatality: India is one of the countries with an alarmingly high number of road accidents.
  • Every year, lakhs of road accidents are registered across the country, which causes deaths to lakhs of people and severe injuries to an even higher number of people.
  • Road accidents not only have a crippling effect on human lives and their families but on the overall economy at large of the country as well.

Government of India Initiatives to address Urban Transport issues in India:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), 2005: JNNURM was launched in 2005 and closed in 2014 (now succeeded by Atal AMRUT Mission).
    • It attempted to improve the public transport system in larger cities through funding of public transport buses, development of comprehensive city mobility plans and supporting city transport infrastructure projects.
  • Green Urban Transport Scheme, 2016: The scheme aims to improve non-motorised transport infrastructure such as dedicated lanes for cycling, pedestrians, increasing access to public transport, use of clean technologies and adoption of intelligent transport systems (ITS).
  • Mass Rapid Transit/ Transport Systems (MRTS): The metro rail has come up as a favoured alternative of mass transport in Indian cities. In 2017, the government introduced new Metro Policy which aims to improve collaborations, standardising norms, financing and creating a procurement mechanism so that the projects can be implemented effectively.
  • Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS): BRTS segregates the movement of buses from all other transport modes, and introduces other changes in the road infrastructure that are associated with safety.
    • BRTS is an important component of AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation)
  • National Transit Oriented Development Policy, 2017: The policy framework aims to promote living close to mass urban transit corridors like the Metros, monorail and bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors.
  • Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP): The project in partnership with Ministry of Urban Development and UNDP aims to promote environmentally sustainable urban transport in India.
  • Personal Rapid Transit System (PRT): It is a transport mode combining small automated vehicles, known as pods, operating on a network of specially built guideways.
    • The ropeway-like system runs on electricity and driverless pods and comes down at designated stations, thus removing the traffic burden from crowded roads.
  • Promotion of Electric Vehicles: Indian Government plans to have an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2030.

Way Forward:

  • For India to achieve resilient and inclusive cities, it is necessary to continuously plan for a low carbon model of growth in our cities, rather than focussing on physical infrastructure for vehicle mobility alone.
  • The need is to build compact cities with a mixed land use and integrating transport planning with land use planning which emphasizes, on one hand, women participation and lead to inclusive sustainable urban growth, on the other.
  • The planners, city authorities and civil society all have to join the mission to make our cities a better place to live in.

Source: The Hindu


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