Emerging Themes: Integrated Mobility

Background  

Understanding the need to manage the growth in private vehicle (two and four wheeler) ownership, Government of India in 2006 formulated the National Urban Transport Policy that prioritised greater use of public transport and non motorised modes and advocated integration of  land-use and transportation to minimise travel distance. The first emphasis on improving mobility in Indian cities was provided by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) which allocated approximately 11 percent (or $2 billion) of the mission budget ($20 billion) to urban transportation. This was primarily a recognition of the range of mobility problems that Indian cities faced – a lack of reliable, affordable and extensive public transportation network thereby forcing people to rely on private two wheelers and four wheelers for commuting needs and a low density of road network for this increased private mode of commuting.

Under the JnNURM, approximately 138 projects were undertaken with 33 percent of the funding being allocated to Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) and about 57 percent allocated to road/highway construction (EMBARQ India and Shakti Foundation,2012).  Cities such as Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad have implemented Metro rail based (up to 30,000 pphd – passengers per hour per direction) systems based on the funding from JnNURM.

 

In addition, 9 cities (Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Bhopal, Indore, Pune/Pimpri Chinchwad, Vijaywada, Vishakapattanam and Jaipur) (Center of Urban Equity, 2013) have implemented or are implementing road based Bus Rapid Transit Systems, with capacities up to 15,000 pphd. Very low allocation  (about 4%) (Ibid) to other projects besides parking, road construction and MRTS has led to the unfortunate exclusion of pedestrian and bicycle users, who constitute 40 percent of total mode split in India. Non motorised modes (bicycle and pedestrian) are feasible as main commuting modes for fulfilling trips in small and medium sized cities, both of which have trip lengths less than 7 kms in average.

Thus the mobility options in Indian cities increased during the JnNURM but a lack of comprehensive approach to integrated mobility left large gaps, especially in the last mile connectivity needs of public transit users.

Smart Cities Mission on Integrated Mobility

The Smart City Mission acknowledged the role of integrated mobility, primarily through public transport for longer commuting and non motorised transport for shorter trips and last mile connectivity. Creating walking communities, reducing the need for commuting, developing compact communities, investing in transit oriented developments and preserving and developing open spaces were ascribed as prescribed features of a smart city by the mission. Similarly projects involving construction of highways, parking lots were left out of the Smart City Mission and instead retained in AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation).

Preliminary analysis of the 20 lighthouse city proposals has endorsed this renewed emphasis on public transport and non motorised commuting within the strategic planning process undertaken by the cities. Adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve the efficiency, ease of use and reliability of public transportation operations also has emerged as a significant proposal by the cities. Some of the highlights regarding integrated mobility planning within the broader SCPs by the lighthouse cities are:

•             The total allocation towards solving mobility problems is 1.8 million USD or 25% of the total proposed smart city expenditures (7.2 Billion USD) by the cities. This is doubling and significant change from the 11% allocation towards transportation made by the previous JnNURM mission.

•             While expressway (flyover) construction, bus rapid transit (BRT) and road improvements were the significant components in the previous mission, emerging global concepts of public bike sharing, ITS/ICT adoption, clean fuel technologies in fleet operation, non motorised transport (NMT) augmentation, urban design and open spaces and even universal access are the new paradigms proposed by the lighthouse cities.

•             Solapur (56%), Ludhiana (51%), Pune (48%) and Devanagere (41%) are unique because of their higher allocations to mobility planning than compared with other lighthouse cities.  Bhopal and Jabalpur both have the lowest allocations (< 10%).

•             Non motorised transportation (bicycle and pedestrian) accounts for the biggest allocation of about $350 million followed by bus based systems at $200 million. Kochi has uniquely proposed ferry based transportation systems leveraging the city’s water network.

•             17 cities have proposed specifically investments in bicycle networks and public bike sharing systems at a total cost of about $90 million. Majority of the bike sharing and bicycling has been proposed in area based projects suggesting the willingness of the cities to implement comprehensive bike sharing systems at neighbourhood levels and then scaling them up in future, to the city level.

•             All cities have expressed wider adoption of ITS and ICT for mobility planning, especially for the purposes traffic management, smart parking and smart bus shelters and integrated fare collection systems. The allocation for ITS and ICT based mobility projects is about $550 million.

•             11 cities have proposed some form of transit oriented mixed use compact neighbourhood planning in their area based approaches. These neighbourhoods will have high densities to support the public transit infrastructure investments while including office centres, open spaces and priority to NMT.

Thus the lighthouse cities have addressed the immediate need for integrated mobility by focusing on bus systems, ferry systems, bicycle sharing systems and augmenting of pedestrian networks. These sustainable modes of transportation are now mainstreamed within the smart city proposals and their success will provide momentum to scaling up to the city and regional levels.

References

Centre for Urban Equity. (2013). Low-Carbon Mobility in India and the Challenges of Social Inclusion: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Case Studies in India.

Embark India and Shakti Foundation. (2012). National Investment in Urban Transport, Towards People’s Cities through Land Use and Transport Integration.

(n.d.). Ibid.