Reimagining the approach to TOD

NIUA studied various projects proposed by cities in their Smart City Plans with the help of MoUD’S TOD Guidance Document. This was part of a research on TOD in Indian Smart Cities conducted with the support of Prosperity Fund, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Government of UK. It purpose is to support cities in Round 2 and Round 3 of the Indian Smart Cities Mission who have proposed or plan to propose Transit Oriented Development in their Area Based Development. It provides a decision making framework for these cities. MoUD’s Guidance Document for TOD presents 21 Principles for planning and implementing a Transit Oriented Development. To simplify the discussion, the study proposed use of 5 constructs of Design, Density, Diversity, Mobility and Housing. They are a modified version of the 3Ds of Design, Density and Diversity. These five constructs were then mapped against the 12 guiding principles from MoUD’s Guidance Document. This exercise resulted in a baseline or ‘ideal’ weights for each f the constructs. The mapping is based on the Components enumerated by MoUD under each of the Principle. Next, the framework is used to understand a city’s approach to implementation of a TOD in three parts:

1. Compatibility of projects and policies: Listing and mapping all the projects proposed by the city against the 21 principles. This is similar to the process of mapping the principles against the constructs. It allows us to identify the constructs prioritized by the city based on the resultant weights. The process is shown in the illustration:

2. Urban Transformation: Estimating the change in the built form of the area selected for ABD. It estimates the additional built up area required to accommodate the additional population that will make the proposed infrastructure investment financially sustainable. Taking city’s current population, growth rate and slum population, the framework estimates if additional interventions are required to stimulate population growth to achieve the desired population. The framework is also used to estimate the expected increase in real estate prices in the ABD using market prices of the land in the area.

3. City’s Finances: The approach for assessing the financial sustainability comprised the following:Analyse the past trends in terms of various components of revenue and capital income and expenditure. It is assumed that business as

  • Analyse the past trends in terms of various components of revenue and capital income and expenditure. It is assumed that business as usual situation would follow similar trends.
  • On a single entry basis, closing balance indicates the net of all cash flows. The investments proposed for TOD projects are superimposed on the existing financials and compared in relation to the prevailing composition of municipal finances. This involves comparing quantum of investment in relation to those generated in the past.

The study looked at four cities in detail, mapping each of its projects against the 21 principles to obtain the resultant weights and thus, the construct prioritized by each city. The exercise illustrates how a city can leverage TOD to address its specific issues. It also helps identify areas that a city can focus on, as it moves forward with the implementation of the TOD.

This framework provides a platform for city managers and policy makers to have a quick understanding of how their projects compare against TOD principles in the Indian context. While the application of these principles has been demonstrated for two cities, this framework has potential to be developed as a tool to provide insights to city managers and policy makers to delve deep into granular elements of the process.

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Valet EZ: Transforming the parking landscape one revolution at a time

ValetEZ is a mobile based application that helps to find secure parking spots in your city and provide valets on-demand who will assist in parking and attending to your vehicle.


  • Typically, car owners spend an average of 10-15 min
    looking for parking spot
  • While parking is free or cheap in most places (at
    least in India), there is a cost in terms of lost time
    and uncertainty of finding a suitable parking space
  • As in most informal fragmented markets, ‘jugaad’
    (workaround) solutions exist at the local level
    – e.g. many offices lease space from empty or
    unused properties OR buildings with offices and
    commercial spaces use the available parking at
    complementary timings etc.


“So, why is parking seen as a fundamental challenge in the urban landscape?

Scourge of free parking – The perception that parking should be mandatorily provided and for free is regarded by most experts as the biggest challenge to reforming the parking sector. Ironically, free or highly subsidised parking is free only for the immediate user of the service. There are significant social costs to the neighbourhood, to commercial establishments in the vicinity – both direct (having to pay for their own private parking) and indirect (lost business from customers who never visited due to lack of parking), the city (congestion, lost productivity and loss of economic activity) and of the general chaos that impacts all commuters on their way to an office meeting, to the store, or to a restaurant.

Alternatives that could address this issue

The most obvious solution is public transport. However, public transport is unlikely to fully curb the aspirations of an emerging middle class to own their own vehicle. Auto sales projections for the coming decade bear this out. Owning a vehicle is not just about aspiration; it has utility in providing greater control over one’s mobility and privacy. Another rapidly emerging alternative in recent years has been organised cab aggregators. The emergence of alternative forms of mobility will change the usage of a personal vehicle but is unlikely to stop the growth of private vehicle ownership for the foreseeable future. With a private owned car remaining stationary for 90% of the time and space a major constraint, parking remains a growing challenge across the urban landscape.

What will it take to organise the parking sector?

In a scenario of increased vehicle ownership and inability of cities to cope with increased supply of vehicles, addressing the parking challenge will move up the priority list. At the same time, the rise of ‘not in my backyard’ (NIMBY) from local communities (both residential and commercial) shows the growing barriers to the indiscriminate use of on-street parking. While the potential opportunity appears straightforward, there are high barriers to overcome in building an effective infrastructure solution. Any presumption that a centralised solution by government fiat – especially in terms of providing infrastructure – will address the problem fails to fully comprehend the diffused nature of the problem. Valet EZ sees the path to addressing the parking challenge through tackling three key factors that influence the sector:
Parking inventory supply:
Lack of quality and timely inventory
The most significant challenge faced by parking users is the non-availability of adequate appropriately priced inventory. Bridging information asymmetry on parking availability would bring about market driven pricing and allow the introduction of features such as advance booking. The opportunity to make money from parking on underutilised real estate for short periods provides incentives to bring on board additional supply, creating a dynamic market and brings in greater efficiency in the management of urban spaces.

Making the economic case
with users: Competing with free
The clearest way to competing against ‘free’ parking is through superior customer experience, high quality products, and a compelling range of product/service offerings. The greater opportunity in the long term is to transform parking from a capital asset to a pay-per-use model. This lowers lease rental costs for businesses while for home owners this could mean that they no longer need to incur the huge upfront cost of purchasing car parks and instead rent for as long as they need it. This model also helps in better revenue realisation for the inventory holder.

Addressing the dual challenge:
Localised density and scalable network
In densely packed and parking space constrained cities, there is a need to innovate on creating additional parking inventory. Valet EZ envisions a decentralised network model of parking lots, bringing new (and dynamic) inventory onto the market and management through the effective use of technology. This model will address the core concerns of security and reliability to develop a scalable network. With the right economics, property owners with spare spaces and inventory can participate on a platform similar to a managed marketplace.
Use of technology to manage parking spaces has largely focused on smart parking solutions in private parking spaces or aggregating existing parking inventory. However, countries with major space constraints and growing automobile markets pose a different parking challenge and require a solution more suited to their unique needs.
A parking solution that is scalable and replicable can be built on the base of a Parking Technology Stack – a series of technology driven tools and processes that help in the creating an ecosystem for both inventory holders and customers. Such

a tech stack would comprise of several layers of solutions and toolkits for inventory development, space management, security, pricing and billing systems, add-on services all integrated on a open platform. This parking technology stack would help provide an ecosystem with common standards and tools to manage a dynamic decentralised network and provide a high degree of standardisation for parking users.

The views expressed in this paper are solely those of ValetEZ and not necessarily those of the National Institute of Urban Affairs or the NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab.

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Curitiba- Transforming City with Bus Transit

Curitiba’s urban planners recognised early on that, even if growth in population cannot be controlled, the development of infrastructure in the city can guide the city’s development. Using bus transit supported by Master Plan, the city changed its radial configuration of growth to a linear model of urban expansion along mixed land use transport corridors. Curitiba approached public transportation not as a solution to advancing problems of congestion and pollution, but as a tool to develop a compact, sustainable and inclusive environment.



Curitiba is the capital city of the State of Parana in Southern Brazil. Currently, the city has a population of more than 1.8 million (2015) distributed within city limits of about 430 square kilometres and a total metropolitan area population of over 3.2 million (IBGE estimate, 2010).
Integrated transportation and land-use planning was adopted in Curitiba to address rapid population growth and to keep it from becoming an uncontrollable, sprawling metropolis (Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., 1996). In 1964, Curitiba prepared, the “Preliminary Urban Curitiba”, a plan which evolved over the next 2 years to become the “Curitiba Master Plan”. Parallel with the evolution of the plan, in 1966, Curitiba created a planning institute, the “Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano de Curitiba (IPPUC)”, to develop, supervise, monitor, and continually update the Master Plan. (Karas, 1985). The Master Plan directed Curitiba’s growth along proposed bus lanes called “Structural Axes”, by creating articulated densities along the corridors.
Curitiba’s integrated transportation system plays an important role in the realisation of this Master Plan. It is a system of median bus ways along the five “structural axes” complemented by “direct” express service on parallel arterial roads, and by an extensive feeder bus network.

Transforming City with Bus Transit

The BRT in Curitiba was key in the transition of the city from radial to a linear model of urban growth. The transport system is based on the major radial corridors of the city or the “structural axes”. Each of the structural axes was developed as a “trinary system” comprising three roads. The central road of the three contains a two-way bus-way that feeds into transfer points called “terminals,” and also provides a limited number of traffic lanes. Approximately at the distance of one block from each side of the central bus-way/service road, a one-way traffic road of three or four lanes is developed for use by private vehicles. Intensive high density land use development has been permitted and encouraged on the block between the bus-way and the main traffic roads on either side. This land use form creates a concentrated, high demand for transport services along a narrow corridor that can be met efficiently by a track-based public transport service – the bus-way. The bus-way system along the five structural axes is only part of the Curitiba city-wide bus mass transit system. The system, termed the Rede Integrada de Transporte (RIT – Integrated Transport Network), provides a hierarchy of types of bus service, which include city bus-ways, inter-district express service and feeder network, all operated under an integrated tariff system. Curitiba achieved its intended compact development, independent of private vehicles, using policies and practices in majorly four arenas- land use planning, public transportation, parking policies and

institutional mechanisms.

Land use planning

The Master Plan prepared in 1964 directed urban development in Curitiba to the “structural axes”. Several land use policies emerged in the city which helped to bring out the best of the “trinary road system”. These included –
• The master plan allows only high-rise (10 to 20 story buildings) and mixed development along the BRT corridors. Also, large-scale shopping centres are only allowed in transit corridors.
• Land within two blocks of the bus-way has been zoned for mixed commercial- residential uses. Beyond these two blocks, zoned residential densities taper with distance from the bus-ways. It brings together various land uses in walkable areas within short distances from the transit station.
• The zoning prescribed by the structural axes has a combination of control and incentives. This includes various bonuses to develop as planned; incentives to transfer development rights; firm control over location of large scale development (such as large shopping centers); provision of incentives to developers to increase residential density close to the transit corridors; and development of transit terminals with a wide range of facilities.
As one move further away from the corridor, buildings become shorter, less dense and lastly it turns into predominantly residential areas. This land use planning has led to greater number of people staying within the first zone and the density gradually decreasing towards the feeder corridors.

Public Transportation

The public transportation system (RIT – Integrated Transport Network), provides a hierarchy of types of bus service, which include city bus-ways, inter-district express service and feeder network, all operated under an integrated tariff system.
• The bus-way system has been instrumental in driving land use development and has been used to stimulate development along the structural axes. The buses run frequently and reliably, and the stations are convenient, well designed, comfortable, and attractive.
• Travel demand for the bus-way system is generated as the bus-ways enter and cross the central business district (CBD) while traffic access is limited by traffic management methods (bus-only access, pedestrianisation, parking controls, etc.).
• The BRTS offers many of the features of a subway system at the low cost of a bus system. This includes vehicle movements unimpeded by traffic signals and congestion, fare collection prior to/ boarding, quick passenger loading and unloading.
• The inter-district express
• The bus feeder services integrated into the bus-way attract commuters through interchange terminals and stops.

Parking Policies

Parking policies have assisted in shaping travel demand, particularly to/from the central area in Curitiba. Some policies are-
• On-street parking is limited in location and duration
• City’s central area is partially closed to vehicular traffic
• Off-street parking is expensive
• Within structural corridors, development must provide off-street parking

Institutional mechanism

The organisations involved in implementation of the BRTS are the city government (Curitiba Mu
nicipality); research and urban planning institute (IPPUC); public transportation corporation (URBS)and private bus operation firms. The inherent structure of the organisations and institutional policies help the system function efficiently.

• An auxiliary to the city’s executive branch of government, the Curitiba Institute of Urban Planning and Research – IPPUC (Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano de Curitiba) was responsible to plan and test solutions. Due to the dual responsibility, new plans were generated, tested, accepted by the community, and put into practice quickly. The population began to trust the ideas of the Institute, and this trust has largely been responsible for changes in the mentality of the city’s inhabitants.
• Work based on the Master Plan in 1965 was financed by the Development Company of Parana and by the Curitiba municipal government’s Department of Urban Development. Operation of the bus system is financed completely by bus fares, without any public subsidies. The Inter American Development Bank, the private sector, and the Municipality of Curitiba financed the north-south Bi-articulated Bus Line project (approved in 1995).
• The municipal government collects detailed operational information, audits the implementation and collects income received from the whole system, and pays the operators for services rendered in real costs. Detailed regulations establish the rights and obligations of the operating companies, define the faults and penalties, and seek to eliminate waste while constantly improving the quality of service. This arrangement ensures the fair distribution of income among operators and prevents unhealthy competition among drivers over specific routes.
In addition to the land use-transport sector, Curitiba has also followed enlightened policies on housing, environment, waste recycling, social matters (particularly for the young), and other initiatives.
• Areas outside the transit corridors are zoned for residential neighbourhoods. Also, Public housing for low income families are built along the transit ways.
• Single fare system of ticketing subsidises the cost of commute for long distances (mostly used by low-income population residing in periphery of the city) over shorter trips. Besides being socially just, the system facilitated the implementation of fare integration between different companies.
• In spite of having potential to raise funds for a heavy rail or subway, Curitiba built on its previous bus systems network and developed a BRT system to guide development, and in the process developing a low cost public transportation system.


Long-term vision, strong leadership and flexibility in plan has lead to the success of TOD in Curitiba. By utilising the existing corridors for BRT and adopting measures to intensify development along these corridors, Curitiba established a public transit system at relatively low cost. Through the use of public transportation and land-use instruments, the local governments effectively directed population growth to establish compact dense settlements independent of private vehicles.

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Enablers for TOD

Success of any Transit Oriented Development depends on the effective use of implementation mechanisms for land use planning, land value capture and travel demand management. By shaping the components of a TOD, these enablers link it with the larger city planning processes and goals. As seen in the global practices, enabling mechanisms are of three types – Land-Use Planning Mechanisms, Process Mechanisms and Financial mechanisms.

Land-Use Planning & Design Mechanisms

It includes land-use master plan, overlay plans, influence zone plans, comprehensive mobility plan and other planning and visioning documents which outline a city or region’s plan for growth in the future. The significance of these documents is three fold. First, they present a city’s vision for long term growth and development, second, they outline the land-use and mobility structure of the city and third, they are legally binding in nature and they regulate development. Through a land-use document, a city can establish a statutory framework for the implementation of a development project. This also means that the projects are developed, allowing room for necessary adjustments across the city.


Synergy between Transport and Land use
(Source: Master Plan of Delhi, 2021)

A Master Plan is critical in implementation of a Zonal plan or other mechanisms including Land Assembly under Town Planning Scheme. An example would be the Master Plan of Delhi 2021. Its language enables the preparation of a comprehensive redevelopment scheme for the influence area of an MRTS stations. Initially, the draft MPD-2021 proposed that the influence zones of MRTS stations be further classified into three zone categories with certain location thresholds (Hiroaki Suzuki, 2015). But this structure of the influence zone has been changed to into a continuous area within 500 m depth on either side from the center line of MRTS in MPD 2021 TOD Gazetted Notification in July 2015.

Delhi’s use of influence zone is similar to San Diego’s 1992 ordinance which created Urban Village Overlay Zones to promote compact infill development around the transit nodes (trolley stops) (Bhishna Bajracharya, 2005).

Form  Based Codes are documents which define the physical shape and design of a built form. These are useful tools in preserving the heritage and culture of a historic neighbourhood. It can also be used to preserve commercial facades, define building envelopes and to in general preserve the activity in a given public space.

Land-Use Planning and Design Mechanisms are important tools in the process of developing a TOD as they provide the statutory framework necessary for various changes in land-use, densities and design of the TOD. Appropriate land-use and design mechanisms may even act as a prerequisite for the process mechanisms. Delhi and Ahmedabad demonstrate this by creating policies for moving the process forward. In reality though policies which can be restrictive for a long period of time (through master planning exercises) and infact discourage higher density living. Hence having a framework that gives the flexibility to city managers to guide the development is undoubtedly a practical approach. Singapore and Hong Kong exemplify this approach by varying their densities, floor space index in response to market demand on an ongoing basis (Bertaud, 2014).

Process Mechanisms

They are mostly command and control tools and economic instruments which mobilise the projects of all sizes and shapes. These mechanisms include land assembly, transfer of development, establishment of partnerships between local jurisdiction, transit and other regional agencies along with the private sector. Land assembly is among the most complex of processes and a critical step in the densification of a neighbourhood. For the most part, land assembly in India has been conducted through two methods – land acquisition (based on the principle of Eminent Domain) and land pooling and readjustment. Eminent Domain refers to the power of the state or public planning authorities and development agencies to acquire land (with appropriate compensation) for the purpose of public use.

Land Acquisition can enable rapid availability of adequate amount of land for development, provided most of the owners agree for sale. It provides almost a clean slate for the new master plan for the assembled land as the value of the land appreciates, it provides opportunity for the development authority to accrue the benefits (Ballaney). One of the acts governing the process of land acquisition is the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013.

Urban Growth Boundary

Urban Growth Boundary, as in case of Portland, is a mechanism for managing growth. The Metro Council in 1995 suggested “concentrating development in urban growth boundaries, with some extent of satellite development”. On its basis, Portland prepared its growth management strategy called “2040 Growth Plan” which features a tight Urban Growth Boundary focusing growth in transit centres and corridors, and asks local governments to limit parking, and adopt zoning and comprehensive plan changes to be consistent with the plan.

Land Acquisition faces multiple barriers as listed below:

  • Land title disputes
  • Proving legitimacy of public use
  • Displacement of land owners and loss of livelihood
  • Compensation delays and disputes
  • Development and redistribution of land
  • Hold outs for speculation
  • Poor capture of the appraisal of land value by the land owners after development
  • Low participation of land owners in the decision making process, particularly when public use has been legitimately established.

As a result, land readjustment and pooling techniques are being used in many parts of the country as an efficient alternative. One of these is a Town Planning Scheme or TPS. A Town Planning Scheme adopts a different approach by engaging the land owners with the development authority for the planning process. In this land pooling/readjustment method, the development authority prepares a master plan for the given area, lays out the infrastructure and distributes the remaining land back to the land owners. There is no land acquisition in the process. Instead, the land owners are charged a betterment fee to pay for the infrastructure development. This allows the land owners to benefit from the appreciation of the land value and enables them to retain their livelihoods. It also means the method can be long and complicated. The method been successfully used in development of Magarpatta, Pune and in Gujarat for development of Sardar Patel Ring Road in Ahmedabad, Outer Ring Road in Surat, BRTS in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara and Surat. Land Pooling is used in different countries, including Australia and Finland (I.P.Gautam, 2012). Transfer of Development Rights is another land readjustment technique. It enables the planners to direct additional development as required, along with improvements to infrastructure, using finances generated through the process.

Transferable Development Rights (TDRs) are essentially the rights to develop built space on land that can be transferred (Nallathiga, 2014):

I. horizontally from one location to another location (ex situ),


II. vertically from surface to above or below (in situ)

Each piece of land has a potential for development defined by the property zoning, land-use and development control regulation (Nallathiga, 2014). The differential development potential of land can be utilised in a positive manner to preserve certain land-uses which are required to be kept with little or no development on site; while at the same time, this unutilised development potential needs to be tapped for beneficial use in other sector – such as residential housing (Nallathiga, 2014). TDRs essentially serve as a mechanism to achieve this objective. In case of Mumbai, the TDR program was initially started with the intention of acquiring land for public amenities i.e., reservations such as green spaces, gardens and playgrounds, and for road construction. In addition, the award of TDR was also made applicable to plot/land owners if they construct/develop the public amenities (or, planned reservations) as per the rules under DCR. The TDR scheme was later extended to achieve other purposes of city development like slum housing, conservation of built heritage, and even for the development/provision of public amenities that were otherwise to be provided by the MCGM (Nallathiga, 2014).

The challenge in the land assembly processes is the capture of the land value which increases with the improvements made to the land. There are different mechanisms that can capture this value, which fall into the category of financial mechanisms.

Financial Mechanisms

They are of two kinds: the first involves mobilisation of financial resources (which includes capture of land value) and the second involves use of financial tools to enhance quality of life within a TOD through behaviour change. Traditionally, financial resources come from either the central or state government sponsored schemes, such as JnNURM, through land monetisation driven EPC or PPP or through land value capture. EPC and PPP are driven through debt servicing or partnership equity. Land is also a major financial resource which can fund development. Its value can be captured in two ways- monetisation through sale or land and/or air rights or by capture of financial value accrued by the improvement of transit, quality of life and comfort. Any improvement to a transit system leads to a direct increase in the value of the land due to improved accessibility, infrastructure, service delivery and quality of life.

Monetisation of land in also seen in some TPS schemes in Gujarat where a small portion of land is acquired from the owner in exchange of providing infrastructure services instead of charging a betterment fee. This land is then assembled and either used for the infrastructure provision or sold to generate funds for financing the infrastructure improvements and other development.

Value capture is distinct from the user charges or fees that agencies collect once services start being delivered on the infrastructure. Value capture relies more on the intrinsic accretion of value increase in the location of the private land once public infrastructure is implemented in its vicinity. Different ways of capturing land value in India include- Land value tax, Fees for changing land-use, Land Value Increment Tax, Area based Development Charges, Value based Development Charges, Transfer of Development Rights and Incentive FSI, Premium on relaxation of rules or additional FSI, Charges for regularisation of unauthorised development, Land Acquisition and Development and Town Planning Schemes.

Giving teeth to the guidelines

Cities often have guidelines or advisory documents instead of regulations and policies in many cases. Guidelines are simply recommendations which should be implemented, but they are not mandatory. One of the simplest examples here is the case of street guidelines, which have been developed in many cities across the country(including Delhi and Chennai), yet they carry little weight due to their advisory nature. Area Based Development within a Smart City Proposal or a city’s Transit Oriented Development Policy, present an opportunity to turn such advisory documents into regulations and policies. Bhubaneswar has proposed this in its Area Based Development, where it is implementing a complete streets policy to diversify its mode share.

The second part of financial mechanisms is the use of financial tools for bringing about a change in the user behaviour. Using congestion fees in a CBD area, or enforcing high on-street parking prices would be an example of de-incentivising use of cars in a dense walkable neighbourhood. Implementing subsidies for public transit fare, or implementing single fare system are examples of financial incentives for using public transit. An example of this is Pune’s draft for public parking policy, where it is proposed use of parking cost as a tool to discourage car use and promote transit ridership and walking.

All these mechanisms work at different stages of building a transit oriented development. From assembling land to implementing parking policies, each of them depend on the institutional capacities of various city agencies and departments. The purpose of the enablers is to mobilise the development process. Many of these mechanisms take time and coordination of various other processes. Thus, they need a comprehensive and proactive approach to ensure success.

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Emerging Themes: Integrated Mobility


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.


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.

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Designing for Bicycle based Mobility

Bicycle users in cities of India generally constitute a relatively high modal share of intra-city trips. However, there has been a consistent lack of prioritisation in terms of policy incentives and investment in bicycle infrastructure over the last few decades. This coupled with the growing length of commutes and aspirations of upward mobility in terms of owning a motorised vehicle has halved the modal share in moderate and large Indian cities to only about 13 to 21 percent today (Tiwari & Jain, IUTJ, December 2008).
In the last 10 years, there has been a marked rise in investments within the realm of urban transport in India. After development of significant automobile infrastructure has not had the desired effect, there have been calls for a renewed focus on sustainable modes such as mass public transit, bicycles and pedestrian prioritisation. With the development of Smart Cities in India, bicycle based planning can feature as an important part in developing and promoting cities with core infrastructure, a decent quality of life for its citizens and a clean and sustainable environment. It would truly follow the recommendations of the National Urban Transport Policy by moving people and not vehicles.
Successful bicycle based planning is focused on elements of planning, legislation, infrastructure and advocacy. However, from a design perspective one needs to understand the various considerations that would need to be included to create a safe and user-friendly system. Bicycles can be used for three different types of usage that would require different design considerations

1. Transit mode

2. Local neighbourhood commutes and last mile transit connector

3. Leisure and exercise

System Planning

The fundamental difference in planning for each of the types listed above is the style of system that would be needed which are dependent on the network type. In all three, the specifications for the surface would need to be such that it is even and continuous with no level changes without a ramp of minimum gradient 1:12. If combined with the sidewalk, they should be of a texture of a sufficient coefficient of roughness to be anti-skid and of a colour to visually distinguish it from the space reserved for pedestrians. The potential system designs for the bicycle network as detailed below are based on the degree of separation from other modes that depend on the design speed of the road or street.

Segregated Lanes

To serve as a city level transit mode, bicyclists would need to use arterial roads for some parts of their commute. Given the higher speed of vehicular traffic on these roads, it is desirable to have physically segregated lanes for bicycles to ensure user safety. These could be designed as a part of the carriageway or the sidewalk depending on the volume of bicyclists. Based on the design speed of the road, segregation could be designed as road markings/striping, raised strips, planting or bollards or combinations of the same with the former being for slower design speeds and the latter for faster.
The segregated lanes may be designed as single direction or bi-directional, including a contra-flow lane. A two-way lane is preferred especially where the road width is such that crossing is difficult and requires significant wait at a signalised intersection. Two-way lanes reduce the length needed to be travelled by a cyclist, but requires an increase in the minimum width provision for the lane from 2.1 metres to 2.5 metres. If there are relatively lower volumes of cyclists, it may also be possible to have two-way lanes only on one side of the road.

Shared Streets

Short distance commutes that take place within neighbourhoods characterised by streets of narrow width and slower traffic may have bicycle users use the same street network as a shared street with mixed traffic. These could generally cater to neighbourhood level commutes for daily needs and local destinations. Also, the influence zone of a mass rapid transit system can increase to around three times in area (from a radius of 500 metres by walk to one of 1500 metres by bicycle) if bicycles can be used a feeder instead of solely walks. Bicycles as a feeder system would need to be supported with ancillary infrastructure that would be covered subsequently.

Alternate Routes

Cyclists of leisure and exercise generally use a system at off peak hours when other traffic is scarce. As there is no particular destination or route involved, it is difficult to plan for these users as part of the street network. However, a system that includes alternate routes for bicycles that run in tandem with the regular motorised routes are preferred by these users as they have a lower possibility of interruptions of vehicular traffic. These could be greenways through large city level green open spaces or could also be streets that are closed off to vehicular traffic. While alternate routes definitely serve leisure activities, if planned with the rest of the city, they can also work for the other use requirements by allowing these users to cut across portions of the city unhindered by vehicles. Sharing of such a network would require larger widths of bicycle tracks to allow commuters to bypass sociable riders who may bicycle parallel to each other and at a slower pace.

Ancillary Infrastructure

Additional infrastructure outside that of the physical one needed for bicycling is required to create feasible environments for the comfortable usage of a bicycle. Without these, significant portions of potential cyclists are left out due to concern for equipment safety and/or capital investment.


An extremely important part of planning for bicycle mobility (which is routinely ignored) is the provision of safe and secure parking for the bicycles. This becomes a major deterrent in choosing the bicycle as a mode choice. Even where bicycle parking is provided, it is often in the most inaccessible part of the building, even though it needs very little space as compared to larger vehicles. Parking systems need to have the option of both short-term and long-term provisions – the latter required especially for the bicycle to act as a feeder system. Without long-term bicycle parking, the only other way bicycles can act as a feeder is if the bicycle can be carried onto the mass transit network. While provision of parking may not always be possible in the public domain, it must be mandated as a part of the parking requirements with preferably more accessible locations allocated to bicycles.


In addition to provision of the physical infrastructure, occasional users and users unwilling to invest in a personal bicycle can be incentivised to use a bicycle if provided as a rental. However, instead of relying on a rental system, where loan and return is usually at the same location, a share system is preferred, as it could be picked up and dropped off at various locations along the system. This would incentivise potential last mile users and commuters to also use the system rather than only neighbourhood users who would be using the bicycle only within the range of a rental location. Costs of the system – both in terms of capital investment and maintenance – could be cross-subsidised by leveraging advertising revenue on the bicycles and also on the rental locations.


Ensuring safety and security of the users of a bicycle system is critical. The issue must be addressed across the system at every stage, particularly at conflict points with other modes of transportation.

Street Lighting

Provision of street lighting for bicycles is needed for multiple reasons – increased visibility of bicyclists, who usually tend to be less visible than other vehicles – due to their negligible surface area, thereby reducing potential night-time accidents and personal injuries; reducing the bicyclists being blinded by the headlights of oncoming vehicles due to an otherwise stark difference in brightness of the two environments; social inclusion by enabling the use of amenities without fear (due to increased visibility); and promoting personal fitness by encouraging bicycling outside daylight hours.
It is generally found suitable to combine street lighting for bicycles with that of pedestrians such that they are low mast (3-4 metres height) with full cut-off fixtures and so that their spread overlaps and there are no dark spots that would tend to become problem areas. A luminaire of around 20-25 lux is recommended.

Street Markings

Other than demarcation of bicycle lanes in visually segregated systems, street markings are required to encourage adherence to bicycle priority zones – both lanes and crossings. It is important that these markings are easily visible during the day and night so their colour and material should be chosen such that they contrast with the road surface and also reflect some amount of light ensuring their visibility at night. A common material used in India is thermoplastic paint which is also used for centreline and lane markings on vehicular roads.

The markings should not only demarcate the extents of the bicycle lane but also indicate in words and symbols that the zone is reserved or prioritised for bicycles. At times, the entire stretch or repeated sections of the lane are marked in solid fill. If done as repeated sections, they should be in patches of at least 5 metres and not be more than 25 metres apart from each other. Colours that are used generally are green, blue or at times red. Alternately, glass beads may to added to the road mix to allow continuous low intensity reflectivity.


Alongside markings, it is important to reinforce regulations and information with the use of signage. Like regular traffic signage, these would include mandatory signs that indicate what users should do rather than what not to; regulatory signs like no parking, no entry etc.; priority signs like stop and give way; information signs of lanes and crossings, whether one-way or two-way, shared or dedicated; caution and warning signage; and direction and service signage. The style in terms of colour, font and size may vary as per City and State regulations. However, if specifications are missing in terms of signage, specifically for bicycles, it should be ensured that these are at a height and in a size visible to users on a bicycle.

Intersection design

Bicycle accidents are most common at conflict points with other vehicles. In segregated systems, this tends to be generally at intersections where bicyclists and motorised vehicles cross streets and traffic. It is imperative that intersection design is done carefully to reduce the occurrence of incidents and injuries.
There are generally three ways to physically deal with intersections depending on the intensity and speed of vehicular traffic though these must be supplemented with markings and signage as discussed earlier. First, signalised intersections with either separate signal phases for bicycles, which may be combined with the pedestrian phase or alternatively bicycle phases combined with the phase for vehicles. The latter however, can only work if supplemented with ‘no free left’ turns. If provided in areas with a low volume of bicyclists, pelican signals that allow green bicycle phases only on demand are preferred.

When bicycle movement is combined with vehicles, bicycles requiring to turn right would require the second model of intersection design which are bike boxes that allow bicycles with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during a red signal phase. Third are protected intersections, which can be used in lower traffic intensity zones, which slows down the traffic at intersection, allowing safe passage. This works by creating a corner refuge island that allows increased reaction time and visibility.

Traffic Calming


To ensure safety of users, traffic calming is necessary on shared streets and at intersections. It reduces the speed of vehicular traffic and gives priority to bicyclists. Traffic calming may be of four types –

1. Narrowing: curb extensions, road diets, pedestrian refuges etc.

2. Vertical deflection: speed humps, rumble strips, speed tables, changed material etc.

3. Horizontal deflection: chicanes, chokers etc.

4. Restricted access: medians, barriers, bollards etc. for reduced vehicular access


Bicyclists as well as other commuters require supporting amenities which increase levels of comfort (these are not mandatory for any system). These amenities include drinking water, public toilets, seating/pause spaces, hawker and vending zones and shaded areas. These are of use not only for bicyclists but also pedestrians and other short-term street users.

Case Study:

Bike-share system at India Habitat Centre

India Habitat Centre (IHC) is a multipurpose complex in central Delhi with work, commercial and social spaces. Located at a distance of around 2 kilometres from the nearest metro stations, employees and visitors to India Habitat Centre face the typical ‘last mile connectivity’ issues. As a solution, IHC is creating a bike-share system and connecting it to Jor Bagh Metro Station. The NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab at the National Institute of Urban Affairs supported the endeavour and provided necessary planning and technical expertise that would be required for developing the system.
There were two options for the route – via 4th Avenue and Jor Bagh Road or via Lodhi Road and Aurobindo Marg. The latter was choses as almost half of Lodhi Road already has a dedicated bicycle track, while the rest has a service road generally used only for parking. The generous sidewalk on Aurobindo Marg, which has little to no users, was optimal for inclusion in the shared bicycle system. To make the bike share system safe and comfortable, the Smart City Lab has proposed interventions along the proposed route addressing design of the lane, design of the intersection, traffic calming, traffic safety and the existing parking policy. The necessary permissions and coordination for execution of the proposal is being managed by India Habitat Centre and includes purchase
of equipment and engaging an operator for the day to day management.
In order to make room for the users of the bike-share system in the form of a bike lane, the NIUA-CIDCO Smart City Lab has proposed the following interventions to the existing right-of-way.

Lane design

As per the guidelines proposed by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) of the Delhi Development Authority, a lane width of 2.5 metres has been specified for the track to allow contra-flow movement along the route. The surface has been mandated to be made even and continuous with no level changes without a ramp of gradient 1:12. While it would have been preferrable to continue the demarcated and physically separated bicycle track that exists on half the length along Lodhi Road, it is not possible at present as the service road measures only only 7 to 7.5 metres in width and since parking could not be removed completely due to the existence of the Lodhi Road Post Office and Mausam Bhavan along the stretch. It is not possible to have provision of both, on-street parking and a dedicated track with free movement of vehicles in the centre.
Future developments in the system could either remove parking along the stretch or trim the side-walk from the existing 3.5 metres to 2.5 metres and use the space as discussed above. However, in the mean time a visual segregation has been proposed that delineates the lane with reflective thermoplastic paint. To avoid high expenditure, a minimum 5 metre delineation at a distance of every 25 metres has been proposed. As reiterated by the personnel of the Delhi Police, who man the stretch, the delineation would help territorialise the space for bicyclists and consequently have an effect on the speed and where the vehicles that use the service lane park.
In addition, indicators designed both as markings along the lane surface signify the priority for bicyclists by use of a bicycle symbol and also indicative sign posts that would show it is a reserved track.

Intersection design

Since the major intersection between Max Mueller Marg and Lodhi Road already has a bicycle track along both the arms of Lodhi Road, no major structural changes are proposed here. However, it is suggested that visual indication of the bicycle crossing would be beneficial as it would ensure increased visibility although not necessary since it in any case is ahead of the pedestrian crossing demarcated by a zebra crossing.
Instead, it requested that the signalling department of Delhi Police include a bicycle signal that would be green when Lodhi Road moving east is green ie. approximately 45 seconds and an additional pedestrian and bicycle green (two phases later) during an all vehicular red that would be for 15 seconds with an additional 5 seconds of blinking.
Where the bicycle lane merges into the service lane halfway down Lodhi Road, the lane requires to ramp down at a gradient of 1:12 with placement of a bollard in the centre to block the illegal access of the bicycle lane by two wheeler motorised vehicles.
The other minor intersections that crossed the entrance gates to Jor Bagh Colony are designed as a continuation of the visually segregated bicycle track with thermoplastic paint as specified above. This to ensure that the vehicles entering or exiting Jor Bagh Colony onto Lodhi Road, give priority to bicycles already crossing the intersection.

On the Aurobindo Marg stretch however, the Safdarjung Fire Station has an exit for Fire Tenders who would need to exit in a hurry in case of a emergencies. Here, the lane design has a ‘give priority’ sign for the bicycles to ensure that the Fire Tenders have priority access. In addition, the portion in front of the access gate delineated with a diamond checkerboard pattern to indicate caution.
Lastly, the intersection between Aurobindo Marg and Jor Bagh Road needed to be crossed to access the bicycle parking that placed behind the vomitory of the station. A kerb cut has been proposed in the median to enable the bicycles to cross with ease.

Traffic Calming

An important part of bicycle based planning is design of traffic calming especially at conflict points such that it reduces the speed of crossing vehicles so that even in case of an accident, injury would be reduced to a minimum. The bicycle track on the service lane of Lodhi Road has numerous conflict points where there are punctures between the main carriageway and the service road. These conflict points could have been avoided by placing the lane on the left of the service road, however this was decided not to be done as the consequent conflict points with the entry roads to Jor Bagh Colony, albeit fewer would be on blind corners, thus increasing the tendency of an accident. Further, by keeping it on the right side of the service lane, the pedestrian crossing points between the on street parking and the built edge are eliminated.
To address these conflict points between the service lane and the punctures from Lodhi Road, it proposed to reduce the turning radius to a minimum of 4.5 metres from the existing 6 metres and adding a zone of cobble stones with a double speed hump running longitudinally along the middle. This would ensure that the vehicle entering or exiting the service lane reduces its speed to avoid a sharp jolt within the vehicle and ensuring safe passage of crossing bicyclists.
At the intersections, where exits from Jor Bagh Colony join Lodhi Road, a table top crossing has been proposed so that not only similar traffic calming is achieved, but side-walk continues, allowing pedestrians to cross without climbing up or down, thereby ensuring universal access.


As discussed earlier, the service lane is currently primarily used for parking, which would need to continue in the current state of affairs. However, the Delhi Police has been requested to keep the parking only to the left of the service lane, so that the bicycle track may continue unhindered on the right.
To ensure this, other than visual delineation as discussed earlier, regulatory signage indicating ‘No Parking’ is proposed to be installed on the right hand side of the track. Initially, this has been done with temporary signage by the Delhi Police. But the NDMC proposes to install permanent signs along with the above interventions when the surface of the service lane is being relaid in February 2016.
In the meantime, to make most use of the winter when bicycling in Delhi is more feasible, the system has begun a trial run from December 16th, 2015 with implementation of the minimum interventions required such as the traffic signal phasing, repair of some broken patches of the side-walk on Aurobindo Marg and delineation of the track with a single line along the service lane of Lodhi Road.
Just before the opening, applications for use of the bicycles were invited from the employees of the institutions at India Habitat Centre. Almost 150 applications were received and passes for free use of the system were issued to 50 applicants on a first come first served basis. Within a month, the number of applications have risen to 280, out of which 200 passes have been issued. The system includes 25 bicycles with stands at Jor Bagh Metro station and Gate 1A of India Habitat Centre and a battery powered vehicle to ferry the bicycles as per demand that currently numbers above 65 trips per day.
Special mention must be given to the Chairman of NDMC for supporting the initiative, Delhi Metro for providing land for the bicycle stand at Jor Bagh, the DCP (Traffic) and ACP (Traffic) of the South Zone of Delhi Police for assisting with the regulation and enforcement of the ‘No Parking’ zone, M/s Delhi Cycles Pvt. Ltd. who are operating the system and Hero Cycles for providing the cycles. Also, a definite citation to the management of India Habitat Centre for leading by example and continuing their care for the habitat and conceptualising, initiating and funding the scheme. It is hoped that the success of this endeavour would allow expansion to the other nearby nodes first and then to remaining magnet points and transit nodes in the city.

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Smart Bus Shelter

A smart bus shelter is an urban installation that change the typical experience of wasting time waiting for a bus.

A smart bus shelter provides real time information to the users

It provides transit data like route number of next bus, arrival time for the next bus etc. or even available seats in the next bus. It improves the experience of bus travel.

A smart bus shelter is a platform for urban informatics

It interacts with users by way of bus route guide, digital map, destination search, traffic broadcasting station, weather forecast etc. It is an interface through which city can inform its citizens.


A smart bus shelter is inclusive

It considers the requirements of differently-abled, women, children and the elderly. Braille boards and strategically placed buttons aid visually impaired to locate buses by way of touch and announcement. CCTV video recording ensure public safety.

A smart bus shelter is more than a waiting place

It integrates components ranging from mobile charging points to public Wi-Fi to solar panels and much more.

These bus shelters gather real time information by establishing ICT enabled linkages with buses through GPS tracking and RFID tags. LED displays at bus shelter display bus number of arriving buses for facilitating the users. Interactive touch screens in the bus shelter function as city dashboard and act as an interface of city with the users. It makes waiting for a bus no longer cumbersome or unreliable, but rather a fun activity.

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Feeder bus system from India Habitat Centre to nearby nodes


India Habitat Centre (IHC) ran a feeder bus service in May 2014 that ran from Jor Bagh and JLN Metro Station to IHC in a continuous loop. The buses ran at an interval of around 10 minutes. After a few weeks, the service was discontinued due to lack of sufficient users even during peak periods.

In, September 2014, TRIPP (IIT, Delhi) conducted a user survey to assess travel behaviour of visitors and employees of institutions at IHC. The survey however, fails to survey all categories of employees. Service and administrative staff of both the institutions and IHC have been left out. Presuming that these employees would be around 50% of the total employees, a significant number of non-motorised and public transit users would be added to the figures.

In July 2015, NIUA (on an informal level) re-examined the assumptions made and the conclusions drawn from both the survey and the feeder bus system failure.

Observations from the TRIPP Survey – (September 2014)

  • Almost a third (32%) of surveyed employees travel to and from IHC by metro which makes it the largest mode share by far. Cars come in next at 24%.
  • Employees not using the metro are split into two major categories – 28% by public and para-transit modes and 37% by private modes.
  • More than two-fifths (41%) of the surveyed metro users use para-transit for the egress trip. Due to lack of Last Mile Connectivity on the egress trip (Metro – IHC – Metro), 28% of employees do not use the metro for their daily commute.
  • Almost half (45%) of the respondents indicated that a feeder bus would be the preferred mode for the egress trip if such a provision was made.

Inferences from the TRIPP Survey – (September 2014)

  • There is a significant proportion of employees at IHC who commute by metro
  • There is a need felt by metro users for last mile connectivity
  • If provided with last mile connectivity, the number of metro users would increase
  • Para-transit providers could pose a challenge in the process of inducing a shift to any other mode.

After extension of the Violet line both in the North and South, there has been an increase of  metro users by 5% as indicated by IHC Survey (June 2015). It could be assumed that there would be substantial increases in the metro modal share on completion of Phase 3 of the Delhi Metro System.

All of the above strongly suggest the need of last mile connectivity from JLN Stadium and Jor Bagh Metro Stations.

Probable reasons for failure of IHC Feeder Bus Service

  • Dispersal is spread over the peak periods from multiple points (Jor Bagh Metro, JLN Stadium Metro, bus-stops etc.)
  • Given the spread in time and locations, dispersal density is not sufficient to sustain the seating capacity of a bus
  • Advocacy in the form of advertisements, circulars, signage etc. did not reach target audience
  • Feeder bus service did not run long enough to induce change in travel behaviour
  • Regular user experience surveys (monthly) were not conducted to modify operations of the service to suit users

Scope of Work

  • Provision of feeder service that is of lower seating capacity – Electric Vehicles (EV) would be an apt choice
  • Higher frequency of vehicle departure (2-3 minutes)
  • Advocacy in the form of advertisements, circulars, notices, signage etc. to target audience

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