While talking about the need for a clear national road safety policy, Deepak Darda, Head-India Operations, IBI Group, underlines sustainable transport solutions such as transit oriented development. ?Congestion, health and safety requirements necessitate that we think of sustainability now?, he says.
What projects are you carrying out in India?
In India, we have two offices: in Gurgaon and in Bangalore. Here we are providing services in all four areas of expertise of IBI Group, namely Urban Land, Architecture, Transportation and Intelligent Transportation Systems. So far, our major thrust area has been Transportation and ITS Systems. We are providing consultancy services and turnkey solutions for toll systems and Highway Traffic Management Systems. The Mysore ITS project, which has won multiple awards at the national level, showcases our work in CAD-AVL (Computer Aided Design ? Automatic Vehicle Location) while the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) for Naya Raipur project integrates our urban planning and transportation expertise to provide solutions that make a city sustainable and liveable. We are also working on developing parking guidelines for five cities in India and are deputed as Monitoring & Evaluation Consultants for new Bus Rapid Transit System projects being implemented. We have put together a strong and professional staff in India in all four domains which bring a wealth of international and Indian experience.
Integrating Land Use Planning with Transportation is mostly done through Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in cities across the world. This is one of our areas of strength; IBI Group is one of the leaders in North America, having conducted a vast array of TOD projects. Our Naya Raipur experience on TOD has helped us appreciate the need and the challenges for TOD in the Indian context. Integration of land use planning with transportation helps reduce the number of trips ? with many of the needed amenities within walking distance, and the others accessible through public transport. In a country where safety & health are deteriorating regularly and urban population is expected to hit 40% by 2031, providing land use planning for transportation is not just good practice, but is the need of the hour. Without quick interventions that integrate our land use with transport, we will soon have unmanageable congestion on our roads compounded with huge health and safety risks.
The bigger question from our perspective is not whether the integration is important, but what steps are required for land use-transport integration to happen henceforth in India. The study we did for Naya Raipur Development Authority helped us understand the master plan changes, policy requirements and organisation structure that are required to make this a reality.
?Safety? is a culture and needs to be assimilated into how we design our highways. We also need to provide greater value for human life than what we are providing at present. First and foremost, India needs to have a clear safety policy and a clear goal for its highways. Many countries across the world are adopting zero fatalities as a vision or goal. Such a focus will help everyone associated with the highways in India on focussing on safety and less on the cost of providing the safety. We keep repeating bad designs such as putting intersections on curves in the four-laning projects due to our focus on reutilising as much of the current pavement as possible. While there is a whole range of design improvements that can be made on most of our highways, an equal focus needs to be placed on education, enforcement, technology and development regulations.
It is important that we design safe roads, then educate our citizens on how to use these safe roads, punish the violators, use technology to enhance safety, and finally provide regulations so that we do not require a bypass for a bypass. Technology, if used properly, can provide cost effective solutions for our roads. IBI Group?s experience with Highway Traffic Management Systems (HTMS) implementation shows that if proper focus is placed on using the HTMS system and adding some low-cost safety systems, we can substantially improve the safety on our roads. We believe that solutions like speed cameras, active warning signs and accident detection systems can substantially enhance our highways if used efficiently.
What is needed for sustainable transportation to work in India?
Sustainability is best defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. But this realisation in the western countries came after decades of unsustainable living — through use of private vehicles and unfettered use of natural resources. In India, we are still in the throes of development and a motorised vehicle is a status symbol that signifies achievement in life. With less than 30% of our population having any motorised vehicle and less than 5% having cars, we have a long way to go before two-wheelers and cars lose their lure.
However, congestion, health and safety requirements necessitate that we think of sustainability now. The principal way to achieve it is to provide sustainable travel choices that are more attractive than the private mode. The requirement is to have easy and reliable access to mass transport combined with various demand management strategies (parking policies & fees, congestion fees, etc.). An even greater requirement is the political will and a policy maker who can champion sustainable transportation.
What are the unique features of IBI?s tolling solutions?
The IBI team brings a thorough understanding of tolling systems with more than twenty years? experience in consulting and end-to-end implementation. We have implemented ETC clearing solutions between various tolling agencies. The uniqueness of our tolling system solutions comes from having robust solutions combined with qualified staff and processes that ensure a smooth delivery of a project, right from its genesis to the end. We understand the requirements of the client in completeness and are able to apply our immense experience in transforming our ideas to replicate into a solution which maximises the utility for our clients. Our toll solutions incorporate extensive features related to audit of the revenue. The Graphical User Experience (GUI) is extremely user-friendly and has been developed through dealing with various operations companies worldwide by understanding their needs and requirements. Our solutions have been deployed in small scale as well as large scale multi-plaza projects. Further, we have implemented multiple ETC technologies such as CEN-278 and RFID 18000 6C globally.