[Answered] “Rising pressure on cities and rising air pollution demand sustainable transport facilities in urban areas.” Discuss.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Problems of urban transport in India and solution.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Indian cities are characterized by increasing levels of congestion, pollution, road accidents etc. There is need of sustainable urban transport in order to build inclusive, safer and more sustainable cities.

Problems faced by Urban Transport in India:

  1. Growth in number of vehicles: According to Niti Aayog, the number of registered vehicles has increased from 5.4 million in 1981, to 210 million in 2015 . This rapid growth in demand in the absence of widespread public transport system has caused a rapid increase of private car ownership in India.
  2. Inadequate Public Transport: According to government data, there are about 19 lakh buses in the country and only 2.8 lakh of them are run either by state transport undertaking or under stage carriage permits. A CSE study points out that the share of public transport is expected to decrease from 75.5% in 2000-01, to 44.7 per cent in 2030-31, while the share of personal transport will be more than 50%. Thus public transport is very less to support growing population.
  3. Urban Pollution: According to a WHO study 14 out of the top 15 most polluted cities in the world belong to India. Vehicular pollution has been one of the major contributors to rising urban air pollution in Indian cities along with other factors such as construction activity, road dust and industrial activity.
  4. Urban Congestion: Major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru are ranked among world’s most congested cities. High levels of congestion have huge economic implications in the form of reduced productivity, fuel waste, and accidents. Further, there is an acute shortage of parking spaces both on and off the streets in the urban centres.
  5. Road injuries and fatality: Fatalities resulting from road accidents is increased by 3.2%. The major reasons for traffic crashes include poor quality of roads, poor traffic management, unsafe and overcrowded vehicles and unsafe driving behaviour.
  6. Unaffordable Transportation: Most of the lower income groups and urban poor are unable to afford private transport and even public transport are costly for them.
  7. Safety of women: Safety is the single biggest factor constraining women’s mobility. Women in major Indian cities reported being harassed on streets. Overcrowding in public transport adds to insecurity and safety issues.

What is needed?

  1. There should be increased emphasis on safety and accessibility. For this CCTVs, trained professionals, recognition of vulnerable and high risk points are important.
  2. There should be more emphasis on reducing congestion caused by passenger and goods flow in urban areas. This need reduce ticket price, more AC-buses etc.
  3. There is need of urban planning focusing on integrating and organising residential and commercial complexes so that travel time is reduced.
  4. An efficient and convenient public transport to address the issue of air pollution and congestion in Indian cities is important . It include:
    • Data-driven planning and urban transport.
    • Focus on multi-modal systems.
    • Introduction of carbon tax.
  5. Make public transport affordable, comfortable and accessible for urban India, to ensure better adoption is important.
  6. Green Modes and Technologies should be adopted. It calls for rapid adoption of electric vehicles and non-motorised transport (NMT).
  7. Intelligent Transport systems based on ongoing technological developments like hyper-loop, bullet trains is needed.
  8. Well-defined Governance mechanism involving different stakeholders is important for urban planning. To address the institutional challenges there is a need for better cooperation among different transport agencies, departments, and ministries as well as better coordination of transport and land-use policies.
  9. Further, there should be adequate funding to address various issues plaguing public transport infrastructure.

National Urban Transport Policy, 2006 envisages safe, affordable, quick, comfortable, reliable and sustainable urban transport through establishment of quality focused multi-modal public transport systems. A multi-pronged approach with increased focus on technology and urban planning is needed to make urban Transportation more sustainable.

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