Sustainable Solutions for Transformation of Mobility in India: Nomura Research Institute

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Transformation of Mobility - Nomura Research Institute -

Transport Expo concluded recently in Delhi with a series of conferences, workshops and live demonstration of new technology ideas for smart sustainable transportation. At the expo, Japan-based Nomura Research Institute (NRI Consulting) released a report on ‘Transformation of Mobility’. The report captures crucial information on current state of transportation sector, the challenges and sustainable solutions for the same. 

The Transformation of Mobility report clearly stated that transportation sector is crucial for driver for GDP growth. Road transportation plays a key role in carrying 2,871 Bn tonne km of freight as well as 18,109 Bn passenger Km annually. Trucks in developed countries cover an average of 700-800 kilometers per day as compared to 250-300 kilometers in India due to road conditions. The World Economic Forum ranks India as 55th in terms of road infrastructure. The report emphasised that quality of roads in India needs improvement.

It also harped on the fact that cities are congested and is one of the major reasons for slow speeds. Challenges on account of heterogeneity of traffic e.g. slow speed e-rickshaws sharing roads with cars that leads to immense zig –zag movement lead to congestion. It further emphasises on lack of parking facilities, roadside parking, creating reluctance in switching to public transport, lack of proper parking areas for app- based cabs which stay on the road for as long as 8-12 hours also leads to high congestion on busy roads. It is important to note that average speed in Delhi is just 26km/h, the report noted.

Key data in the report on public transport – 

  1. Penetration of buses in India is about 1.7 buses per 1,000 people, however, lags behind countries such as Thailand (8.6), South Africa (6.5), USA (2.7). Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) corridors have also not been able to succeed in most of our cities.
  2. The ridership in Metro and Mono rail is still not very high compared to other global cities. For instance, the ridership per km in Delhi is 10, 879 as against 14,593 in Shanghai, 14,467 in New York and 27,811 in Sao Paolo.
  3. Low quality infrastructure and poor on-time performance, uncoordinated timetables, lack of connections at transfer stops, buying new ticket with every change of mode and no single authority to maintain and coordinate urban transit network lead to fewer people opting for public transport.

This has lead to an adoption of inefficient intermediate public transport such as shared Autos, E-Rickshaws, over crowded vans, coupled with journeys on foot. With ¾th  of the 227 Mn vehicles running on roads are two wheelers leading to hazardous levels of pollution in cities. As a case in point, while the number of vehicles per km in Delhi (using registration data) is 176, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is (Hazardous) 457 while London with 220 vehicles per km has an AQI of 58 (Moderate) and Tokyo with 132 vehicles per km has an AQI of 66. Therefore, dust on roads, construction dust and to some extent other forms of vehicles e.g. heavy trucks plying through cities are a big contributor to the high city pollution levels.

All this calls for Sustainable Solutions for Transformation of Mobility by –

  1. Creating public transport systems which are well integrated with each other to fulfil the need for transit in a smooth and hassle free manner
  2. Adoption of zero / low emission vehicles and measures for reducing non-vehicular dust related pollution
  3. Intelligent mobility solutions such as smart traffic lights and lane management systems, redesign of roads post identification of bottle necks and planning separate lanes for slow moving traffic for reducing heterogeneity of speeds on roads
  4. Smart parking management  e.g. integrated database of parking with app based parking spot finder, dynamic pricing of parking spots, parking regulations for app based taxis as well as for parking in residential areas
  5. Initiatives should be taken for sharing transport infrastructure and making sustainable transport options more affordable and acceptable e.g. car pooling and making public transport more affordable to enable people who take inefficient intermediate public transport or non – motorised options switch to public transport.

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