Dr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, Union Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, who inaugurated TrafficInfraTech Expo 2012 was happy with the way the show was organised. “This is a very good show and I am impressed with the quality and variety of exhibitors and products,” he told TrafficInfraTech.
Delivering his inaugural speech and opening the first day’s seminar on ‘Traffic Management and Safety during Highway Construction’, Dr Krishna said, “Traffic management is crucial for planned urbanisation which is a pressing need of the country today. Urban development must facilitate jobs for people and fulfil their basic requirements. For this, we need to have transit oriented development as the fundamental basis of city development planning. So, transport facilities should take into consideration where and why people need to travel, and whether the travel can be reduced, or otherwise made convenient. All the exhibitors and stalls that I saw at this Expo, and the technology and the products displayed, are quite in line with considerations of a planned transit oriented urban development.”
Dr Krishna raised one of the most important issues in infrastructure development – that of land acquisition and proper use of land as mixed land use. He said, “Mixed land use is another issue which is indirectly connected to the seminar topic. Traditionally, urban land has been divided into segments such as residential, commercial and industrial areas. But now, we are suggesting and encouraging mixed land use – e.g. in all tall buildings the upper floors can be residential, the middle floors can be workplaces where people work and the lower floors can be commercial where people can do their shopping. So this would eliminate the need to commute, thus reducing traffic congestion. Similarly, we are advising to construct shopping complexes on the upper floors of Metro Stations and Bus Depots, so that valuable land can be used, and people get their requirements at their transit points, reducing the need for them to move about. Of course, all this needs regulations such as parking and safety requirements. Subject to these requirements being met, we are encouraging mixed land use which would also align with the traffic issues and ultimately, proper city development.”
Dr Krishna emphasised the need for encouraging the use of public transport and reducing private vehicles. He said, “Traffic management should move out from personalised vehicles to public transport, and wherever personal transport has to be used we should try to encourage non-motorised transport such as private bicycles, a public bicycle system and pedestrianisation. For that, JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) has been quite helpful though of course it was not intended for transport matters as such. Eventually, it was proposed to include city bus transport and BRT services under JNNURM so that a stimulus could be provided to bus manufacturing activity. There were many benefits for bus manufacturing under the programme but more importantly, cities and people benefited (from it) because the standards for city bus transport services and intelligent traffic systems were implemented during the course of this activity.”
Elaborating on the issue of economic viability of urban transport Dr Krishna said, “There was an impression earlier that urban transport solutions such as city buses were not viable economically. But BMTC, which recently made an annual profit of
र 200cr and a few other examples have shown that this need not be the case. Proper management, combined with judicious use of new technologies, could ensure that State Road Transport Undertakings and city bus services run profitably while delivering quality services. Similarly, in the city of Tumkur about 100 buses have been purchased and after a gestation period of about two years, profit has started coming in. The point is that if the financing model for implementing a technology is worked out then the adoption of the technology becomes much faster. The need for new technology exists and people are aware of it. But there are two lurking fears – how to finance the implementation of a new technology and how to manage it. The financing model can be proposed by those who are supplying the technology. PPP model can be used as it is very good and the projects can be done on BOT (Build Operate and Transfer) basis or a similar model developed by mutual consensus so that financing can be done in a phased manner and not upfront.”
Speaking on the new technologies, he further said, “For the management of projects with new technology, the technology vendor should also give training support to the user organisation so that they can manage the technology involved in the project. Now many cities which have seen the benefit of using new technologies have started using technologies such as ITS on their own, outside the purview of JNNURM. “ITS has helped them in crucial areas such as fleet management and rolling stock management of bus operations, and they have been able to recover their investments in these projects in a short time due to the tremendous benefits accrued.”