An Alternative TOD Policy

Delhi, as the centre of the National Capital Region (NCR), needs to reaffirm its status as the primate city in the central NCR. In spite of a declining population growth, Delhi has sprawled to an area double its size over the last decade. This is the consequence of an auto-centric bias and a shortage of affordable housing. People are living further away from places of their work and spending more time on their daily commute on road. Delhi’s adoption of TOD as a strategy will help rein in this sprawl and improve the quality of life.

Recognising this, UTTIPEC (DDA) initiated the development of a TOD Policy for Delhi in 2009. In 2012, the first draft of the policy was completed. A revised version of the policy approved by the MoUHA in 2015. The policy was further modified and published for comments in 2016. The notification of the Policy in the Gazette of India in April 2016 showed a dilution of the progressive standards set in the 2012 Draft. It also the showed the difficulty of changing the behaviour of an auto-centric city. This is in spite of the large scale capital investments in public transit made over previous decade. NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab was invited to share comments on Delhi’s TOD Policy earlier in 2017. As an additional exercise, the Lab also prepared a draft alternative TOD Policy for Delhi.

This draft borrows from findings of a study conducted by NIUA on Transit Oriented Development in Indian Smart Cities. It suggests for a focus on the following:

  1. Need for the policy – The policy should present a clear status of Delhi’s infrastructure, making the case for the TOD policy. It should focus on NMT, public transit, housing infrastructure and upcoming transport investments. The policy should focus upon the principles of TOD and using the five constructs outlined in NIUA’s TOD study in 2016-17.
  2. Policy statement – It should highlight the significance of the TOD Policy in managing Delhi’s growth. It should also clearly state the policy’s intention of maximising sustainable mobility and development practices in Delhi.
  3. Existing legal provisions relevant to the policy – The policy must recognise the legal framework already in place that supports implementation of a TOD. It should highlight the provisions within Master Plan for Delhi 2021 and the National Urban Transportation Policy 2014 that enable the implementation of TOD.
  4. Applicability of the policy – The policy should clearly identify the areas within Delhi for its application. It should also enumerate the various public transit stations and nodes in the city that can be developed as a TOD node.
  5. Exclusions to the policy – It should identify the areas within the city where the policy cannot be applied. This should be with respect to the presence of historical structures and other conditions protecting their status.
  6. Guidelines for implementation of the policy – The tools useful in the implementation of a TOD should be discussed within the policy along with the guidance for their use. a. Instruments of a TOD, namely Value Capture Finance, Land Pooling and Joint Ventures. b. TOD Project types based on Influence area development and public transit type c. Differences between a Greenfield and Brownfield development within a TOD.
  7. Key Highlights of DCR – Finally, the policy should present the modifications in DCRs necessary for implementation of TOD. This should cover standards for density, FSI, road design, car parking, land use mix and universal access.

TOD implementation in a city requires adoption of its principles through an incremental approach. Given that this process stretches over years, it requires a clear guiding framework. The policy offers this framework by integrating existing statutory documents and regulations. It attempts to shift the focus from the solutions to the mechanisms of their delivery. By doing so, this alternative draft TOD Policy for Delhi aims to overcome institutional barriers to the success of a TOD. Recommendations of the policy focus on a incremental approach that allows the city to transform neighbourhoods one step at a time with simple interventions. Highlights of the recommendations made in the policy draft are:

  1. Implement TOD around existing public transit stations, using them as nodes.
  2. Prioritize the TOD implementation around multi-modal hubs (metro stations, interchanges, railway stations, bus terminals and airport terminals).
  3. Maximizing access to these transit stations by developing bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure, strengthening existing IPT with the ‘influence area’.
  4. Limit parking within 100 m of these stations.
  5. Ensure convenient transfer between different modes of public transit by implementing seamless integration.
  6. Focus on achieving a high density of jobs and households, with a minimum density of 175 inhabitants per hectare.
  7. In case of the implementing TOD on MRTS (metro), High densities centred at the stations will automatically form a contiguous band of Influence Zone or Corridor since the average distance between the stations is less than a km.
  8. Investments in the improvement of influence area improve value of the neighbouring property. Adopt VCF policy to capture some of this financial increment.
  9. Use mechanisms such as a Business Improvement District (BID) at District Centres in Delhi to finance physical improvements for pedestrian and NMT infrastructure and open space in the influence area.
  10. Use PPP or Joint Development models for financing TOD and engaging with the private stakeholders.
  11. Revise the DCR to enable implementation of all these interventions.
  12. Scale all interventions based on the extent to existing development. The various types of development recommended are as follows: Brownfield – Retrofit; Brownfield – Infill; Brownfield – Redevelopment (New Development); Greenfield (New Development).