There is an exponential growth in automobiles in our country for the last three decades. Ninety percent of these vehicles are located in urban areas. Many of these vehicles belong to two wheelers and three wheelers. Compounding growth of urban population and personal vehicles have resulted into deteriorated quality of life and dampening economic growth. To improve this situation, according to the High Powered Expert Committee (HPEC), there is a requirement of investment in urban infrastructure to the tune of `39 billion over the next 20 years, out of which 58% is meant for urban transport explains Dr CSRK Prasad.
Percentage land allocated for transport activity in most of Indian cities is far below the international standards. There exists severe pressure on the existing 2 lakh kilometers of urban roads. Per capita trip rates are expected to go up with changing life styles and increased city sizes. With increased population and exponential growth of personalized vehicles, if the present trend of modal shares continues; average journey speeds on major corridors of all the cities will be drastically reduced. This will result into increased traffic congestions, journey times, energy consumption and environment pollution.
The cost of travel, especially for the poor, has increased considerably. This is largely because the use of cheaper non-motorised modes like cycling and walkinghas become extremely risky, since these modes have to share the same right-of-way with motorized modes (NUTP, 2006). Large section of the population in the cities uses bicycles and public transportation. Improper pedestrian and bicycle facilities lead to ineffective transportation system. The success of urban transportation lies in effective NMT facilities and efficient public transportation network.
Urban Transport Policies
The GOI addressed urban transport issues in different policy documents as described below.
Road Development Plan – Vision 2020 recommended following measures for improving urban transport system in India.
- Preparation of Integrated Landuse – Transport plan
- Strengthening of Public Transport System
- Provision of non-motorised transport
- Traffic management measures
- Intelligent Transport Systems
- Integrating Land use and Transport Planning
- Priority to the use of Public Transport
- Integrated multi-modal public transport systems
- Priority for non-motorised transport.
- Use of cleaner technologies / reducing pollution
- Equitable allocation of road space
- ITS for Traffic Management
- Enhancing Road safety
Working Group on Urban Transport of 12th Five Year Plan gave following suggestions for enhancing public transport share in cities.
- Introduce organized city bus service in all 2 lakh+ cities and State capitals;
- Add BRTS @ 20km/1 Million population in all cities with million plus population;
- Add rail transit @ 10km/ Million Population
- Provide Suburban rail services in urban agglomerations with population > 4 Million*;
- Improve and upgrade Intermediate public transport vehicles and services.
Working Group on Urban Transport of NTDPC gave the following recommendations:
- Every Year 500 to 700km of Mass Rapid Transit Network needs to be built
- To sustain growth 50-60% of trips should be on public transport.
- Buses form the backbone of transport in major cities (30-40% share).
- Tempos/Auto-rickshaws are major modes of public transport especially in many small and medium sized cities (5-10% share).
- Rail transit system is likely to meet about 10-15% of aggregate demand. It is assumed that its role is limited mainly in mega cities. It may also be relevant to some extent in 25 lakh+ population cities.
- Every year 8000-10000 buses need to be added to take care of the replacement needs as well as to accommodate new demand.