What is the background of Indian transit sector?
Indian cities are engines of economic growth. But they grapple with challenges brought about by decades of unplanned growth. Mobility is a major area, given its impact on the economy. As per an IIT Madras study, the economic cost of congestion in Delhi alone is $8.9 billion per annum and could rise to $15 billion by 2030. Smaller cities lack extensive public transport, bigger cities struggle with affordable last-mile connectivity. These voids are filled by personal vehicles
What are the problems faced by Indian transit sector?
The problems are:
1) Growth in the number of private vehicles (largely motorcycles). The number of registered vehicles increased from 55 million in 2001 to 142 million by 2011, with an estimate 195.6 million in 2016. In the last decade registered vehicles per million population has increased by 219% while urban road infrastructure per million only increased by 124%.
2) Severe congestion. The rapid growth in private-vehicle ownership has led to increased congestion problems in cities.
3) Deteriorating air quality. Emissions from vehicles increases levels of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
4) Increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector. Pollutants from vehicles causes health issues like lung cancer, asthma, irritation in eyes, bronchitis etc.
5) Increasing road accidents. India recorded a total of 501,423 road accidents and 146,133 road accident deaths in 2015 which is increasing exponentially.
What are the challenges for the Indian transit sector?
1. Institutional gaps
2. Inadequate supply
3. Poor customer experience
4. Lack of the use of technology
What are the possible solutions to Indian transit sector?
Some feasible solutions are:
1) Adopt the Avoid Shift Improve (ASI) framework:
Avoid - need for motorised travel which is possible by integrated land use transport planning and measures like tele commuting, work from home, etc.
Shift from personal modes of transport to public transport and non-motorised transport.
Improve - Make improvements in technology, cleaner fuels and vehicles.
2) The emergence of metro systems.
3) Revamping city bus system.
4) Innovative technology.
5) Redefining the roles of public authorities.
6) Provide inter-operability between transport modes in terms of quality, schedule alignment and integrated ticketing. Delhi is paving the way for this by making metro rail cards usable on buses.
7) Make the public transport system amenable to technological innovations that can enhance user experience and make transport safe and efficient. The growth of smartcards and app-based services has made digital currency more acceptable. . Kolkata has taken steps to digitise its transport sector through app-based parking, bringing use of public transport to over 70%. many cities are making mobility gender- friendly. Kochi has all-women metro stations, pink taxis for women and encourages women to participate in mobility as service providers.
8) Facilitate the inter-connect between different service providers and modes.
9) Promote research, development and innovation.
10) The recent ‘MOVE’ event, India’s first global mobility summit, was a great first step because it focused on the future of mobility.
The Indian transit system has significant distance to cover in terms of quality and affordable services to the public. With right environment and proper structuring, private sector investment, innovation and efficiency can be brought in the system. The opportunity is now to make India more mobile, enhance the infrastructure of public transport and boost its customer service.