Urban transport in India is hampered by low-quality infrastructure and poor on-time performance, uncoordinated timetables, lack of connections at transfer stops, new tickets required for every change of mode and no single authority to maintain and coordinate urban transit networks.



Traffic at a standstill in India's capital, Delhi, November 8, 2014. (Photo by Guillaume Flament)


These factors lead to a low percentage of the population choosing public transport, finds a new report from Nomura Research Institute, one of the largest consulting firms in Japan with a strong presence in Asia.


In fact, three-quarters of the 227 million vehicles on Indian roads are motorized two-wheelers.


Titled "Transforming Mobility," the report explains while buses are one popular mode of public transport, India, with a penetration of about 1.7 buses per 1,000 people, lags behind many countries such as the United States (2.7), South Africa (6.5), and Thailand (8.6).


While Bus Rapid Transport corridors have been introduced in various parts of India, they have not been successful in most cities, with the exception of Ahmedabad and Surat.


The quality of Indian roads needs improvement to reduce congestion, the Nomura report points out. Commercial vehicles in India can travel just 250-300km per day on the country's sub-standard roads as compared with commercial vehicles that can make 700-800km per day in developed countries.


Within Indian cities, more congestion is created by slow speed e-rickshaws that share the roads with cars.


Lack of parking facilities further aggravates congestion, creating reluctance to switch to public transport due to limited parking at metro stations and public transportation hubs.


The lack of sufficient parking areas for app-based cabs causes them to stay on the road for as long as eight to 12 hours, which means additional congestion on busy roads.


Congestion leads to drastic drops in vehicle speed, with the average speed in the capital, Delhi, being around 26kph.


The Nomura Research Institute suggests that Indian mobility can be improved by:


  • Creating public transport systems which are well integrated with each other
  • Adoption of zero/low emission vehicles and measures for reducing non-vehicular dust
  • Introducing smart traffic lights and lane management systems, redesigning of roads after identification of bottlenecks, and planning separate lanes for slow moving traffic
  • Smart parking management such as, an integrated database of parking with an app-based parking spot finder, dynamic pricing of parking spots, parking regulations for app-based taxis and for parking in residential areas.


"Transformation of mobility is becoming vital, on the back of an increasing population and higher migration of people towards our already congested cities," said Ashim Sharma, partner and group head, Nomura Research Institute Consulting and Solutions India.


"The government is also cognisant of the situation and has rolled out initiatives such as the Smart City Mission to address this issue," said Sharma. "It is essential that in our quest for transformation of mobility we ensure that solutions are sustainable, scalable and also all-encompassing.”


This flagship effort will allocate Rs. 48,000 crore (an estimated US$7.5 billion) over five years to promote progressive urban planning, improve governance, and strengthen the economic, social and physical infrastructure of 100 of India's cities.


This is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious urban development programs to improve quality of life in India’s fast-growing urban centers.


Through the Smart Cities Challenge,India's central government is selecting 100 cities to receive funding to improve urban transport and planning and create smart solutions over the 2015-2020 period.


In addition to more efficient public transportation, India is starting to prepare the way for electric vehicles. Sharma said, "With the advent of electric vehicles, the global automotive industry is set to experience one of the biggest transformations. In line with global developments, the Government of India has also formulated a vision for increasing EV penetration in India."


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)


May 25, 2018