Urban Transport Policy: For the betterment of future

Without any kind of orders from government, urbanization was happening in our country at a frentic pace. Our cities doesn’t have more space or proper infrastructure to accommodate people who are kept pouring in. Due to the huge number no. of peoples, the no. of vehicles is also increased which results in traffic congestion. As already the traffic in cities increased to alarming levels and with the no. of vehicles and people is only going to increase in the coming years Government of India has launched National Urban Renewal Mission to analyse and bring about improvement in urban infrastructure. Now the NURM has came up with the National Urban Transport Policy keeping the growing population in mind.




Urban Population:
As per the report 30% of the total population of India is in urban areas now and it is expected to grow to 60% with the economic growth. In 2001, the urban population is 285 million and it is expected to grow to 473 million in 2021 and 820 million in 2051. So its very much important to take measures not for the present scenario but with keeping an eye on the future numbers.


While the population is increased by 1.9 times, the vehicles are increased by 7.75 times from 1981 to 2001 and the rate at which our people have bought vehicles during the past 10 years, we can assume the cause of all of our problems on the road. I have seen Anna Salai one of the most frequently used roads in Chennai for more than 10 years, there is no change in breadth of the roads but the no. of vehicles just doubled and tripled and I am sure it is not going to reduce in near future by any rise in fuel prices. With the increase in the no. of vehicles it’s almost conclusive that accident also increased so as the air and noise pollution.


Objectives:
The objective of this policy is to ensure the safe, quick, affordable, reliable and easy access to jobs, educational institutions, residents and recreation activities so that the no. of man hours will be saved.
  • To bring about an equitable allocation of road space with people, rather than vehicles.
  • To encourage people to use public transport systems and non-motorized vehicles.
  • To establish multi-modal public transport system those are well integrated, providing seamless travel across the modes.
  • Enhancing and ensuring the safety of the transport system users.
  • Reducing the pollution levels through changes in traveling practices, better enforcement, stricter norms, technological improvements, etc.
Let us see what the current scenario is and how the objectives can be fulfilled:

Equitable allocation of Road space:

Present Scenario: 
  • The road space is allocated to whichever vehicle occupies it first, which means that space is allocated on vehicle basis and not on no. of people basis. For example, a bus may take approx. a space of space of 3 cars. But about 50 people were traveling in bus, where in cars a maximum of 10 people may travel. So the poor people who are using public transport systems were made to pay higher travel time and high travel costs.
  • Due to the increase in personal motorized vehicles, non-motorized vehicles were squeezed out due to the safety concerns.
Propasals and Solutions:
  • With more no. of people were traveling through public transport it is important to allocate more space to them. And this can be achieved by reserving separate lanes for public transport, personal motorized vehicles, non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians.
  • But our people were not following the lane rules at present, so it needs some strict laws to enforce it.
Public transport usage:

Present Scenario:
  • Many of the people from the middle class to upper class were using their personal vehicles to travel around the city as they are convenient.
  • And also another reason is there are no proper infrastructure for public transport and no sufficient no. of vehicles to make the travel easier.
Proposals and solutions:
  • The public transport system must be made more attractive by including the proven technologies around the world in it.

  • With the inclusion of superior technology, the problem of pricing occurs as the quality is increased. So keeping an eye on economic conditions of the people different levels of public transport varying with technologies must be operated. With most of the economically backward people were using public transport it must be ensured that they are getting services at affordable prices, if possible at subsidized prices.
Integrated transport system:

Present Scenario:
  • There is no proper system which provides an integrated transport which involves roadways, railways and waterways according to the travel needs of the people.
  • Different corridors which are having different travel density and the existing systems are not taken them into consideration.
Proposals and Solutions:
  • Single agency must take the responsibility of co-ordination so that there will be a common approach to public transport planning and management.
  • The interchange between the transport systems must be seamless and making the pricing for all the system common will make wonders.
For example, in Chennai, MTC (Metropolitan Transport Corporation) and Southern Railways has opened a bus bay inside the Tambaram railway station that would benefit the train commuters. This move has been a huge relief for the passengers and it reduces the traffic chaos in GST (Grand Southern Trunk) road. Read about this here.

Safety of the users:


Present Scenario:
  • The most vulnerable as far as safety is concerned are the pedestrians and cyclists, and if we take a close look at it those modes, they are non-pollutant way of transport.
Proposals and Solutions:
  • Encouraging the use of cycles by providing a segregated path for them. With the segregation of lanes for different vehicles, the average speed of the vehicles will increase. And also the parking space must be allocated for them and facilities must be improved.
Reduce Pollution:


Present Scenario:
  • Today the pollution levels of our cities have been increased considerably due to the increase in usage of personal motorized vehicles. With most of the vehicles were petroleum products driven the emission levels are on the higher side.
Proposals and Solutions:
  • Incorporating different cleaner technologies and finding the alternative fuel to petrol, which has lesser carbon emission. Some initiative has been taken by Delhi to reduce the pollution. Here is the news which says:

    Delhi is a showpiece example of making air quality safe with its entire public
    transport fleet converted to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) on a scale
    unparalleled anywhere else—80,000 CNG vehicles including 9,000 buses. Delhi has banned taxis, buses and auto rickshaws older than 15 years...more....
  • Vehicles must be periodically tested for their emission levels and maintained well. Some strict norms must be enforced to keep the violators in check.
Parking:

This is another important proposal which affect the individual motor vehicle owners in a big way.

Present Scenario:
  • There are no proper and enough parking facilities within the cities and in most cases parking of the vehicles just adds up to the traffic woes of the people.
Proposals and Solutions:



  • Land is valuable in all urban areas. Parking places occupy large portions of such land. This fact must be recognized in determining the principles of allocation of parking space.
    Parking fee must be in such a way that represents the true value of the occupied land.
  • Each and every shopping must have a parking complex according to the frequency of the people. And also multi level parking complexes must be developed at appropriate places.
Summary:

From my view, this policy has more useful things which will benefit both the people and environment. I consider the increase in the usage of cycles and the implementation of integrated transport systems as the very important aspects of the policy. But it requires lot of work to envision it and we can believe that our government has chosen a right path by forming the National Urban Renewal Commission to develop the urban areas.

The only thing which may get some brick bats is the parking fee charge. But I feel if the standards of public transport were increased means people will refrain from using their personal vehicles. If the above said things were implemented means we can say our cities are on par with any another city in the world. Along with the above proposals, if the government shows the interest in growing the trees along the sides of the roads means the cities will be more greener and there is no need say about their helpfulness in keeping the air clean.
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