Research on Transit Oriented Development in Indian Smart Cities (https://tod.niua.org)

Rapid economic development in globalised India has led to an immense pressure on the urban infrastructure of the country. With an ever growing population, the country needs to manage its growth through a strategic approach and sustainable practices that encourage efficiency in land use and transportation. Given the large scale of investments underway across hundreds of Indian cities under a variety of national urban development schemes and missions, there is an opportunity to enhance and redirect the planning practices at the city level in India, leading to an integration between land use and transportation.

The Smart Cities Mission attempts to do so by encouraging the cities to adopt a strategic approach to planning and by advocating for implementation of Transit Oriented Developments. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) can be used effectively to create high density, compact neighbourhoods supported by public transit, to reduce the dependence on private vehicles and the resulting pollution and congestion. So far, 60 cities have already been selected under the Smart Cities Mission and their Smart City Plans are currently being implemented. Out of these 60 cities, 41 illustrate transit oriented development or land-use-transportation integration. To support this nation-wide effort in the implementation of TODs, the Ministry of Urban Development recently published a Guidance Document for planning and implementing a TOD in an Indian city. Its purpose is to assist various government organisations, public authorities and development professionals in India, in the process of integrating sustainable transport planning principles in diverse urban contexts. The document outlines 12 guiding principles and 9 supportive principles essential for the successful implementation of a TOD. It is meant to be used to evaluate the implementation of projects under the Smart City Mission. However, there are several limitations to this:

  • One year long gap between preparation of the Smart City Mission Guidelines and publication of the Guidance Document.
  • The Guidance Document presents a technical approach to planning and implementing TOD according to the needs of each city; whereas the Guidelines for the SmartCities Mission recommends a broader city level strategic approach, where TOD is one of the possible solutions. This limits the use of MoUD’s Guidance Document in assessing the SCPs.
  • The Guidance Document recommends identification of scale and site of a TOD based on the availability of resources and enabling environment. Site selection and selection of TOD as an approach in the Smart City Mission depends on the availability of suitable land and expert opinion and citizen engagement.

To overcome these limitations and to use MoUD’s Guidance Document in the assessment of the SCPs, it is important to first identify where the TOD planning and implementation process recommended under each of these two approaches aligns. In February 2017, NIUA released the publication titled “A Smart(er) TOD” in an attempt to do so.

The document was produced as a deliverable for the TOD in Indian Smart Cities project, conducted with the aid of the Prosperity Fund, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Government of UK. It is one of four documents published over the course of the research. The other three other publications from the study are:

  • Transit Oriented Development in Indian Smart Cities – a Global Review of Best Practices: outlines the five constructs of a TOD – Density, Diversity, Design, Mobility and Affordable Housing
  • Game Changers in TOD: Discusses Value Capture Finance and Form Based Codes
  • Assessing TOD: Presents a list of indicators and values for assessing a TOD

A Smart(er) TOD proposes a method for assessing individual TOD projects incorporated in SCPs of various cities, using the recommendations of MoUD’s TOD Guidance Document.

  • It begins with a description of the proposed method for this and the various documents required.
  • Next, it maps the relationship between the five constructs of TOD presented in the Best Practices document and the Principles outlined by MoUD’s Guidance Document.
  • Finally, it illustrates the application of the proposed method through analysis of SCPs from 21 cities. It also presents a list of TOD projects from these 21 cities, along with their project budget.

The publication was produced with the purpose of providing support to Indian cities, within or outside the Smart City Mission. It particularly aims to help:

  • Cities which have proposed TOD/land-use-transportation integration in the Light House, Fast Track or Round 2: to support the preparation of their Detailed Project Report (DPR) for proposed projects in their Smart City Plans. For example, if a city has proposed a project for building Non Motorised Transport
    (NMT) infrastructure within the TOD, this study will help identify the various interventions that should be a part of the project beyond the creation of segregated cycle tracks, such as designing intersections and reducing the spacing streets or ize of block to reduce trip lengths. Inclusion of such details in the DPR will increase chance of success and improve in the quality of life for the citizens.
  • Cities which have not proposed TOD in the Light House, Fast Track or Round 2: it is observed that cities have without TOD still have a significant number of their projects are geared towards enhancement of transportation and housing. The results of this study will provide them with an overview of interventions that  should be a part of such projects.
  • Cities which are participating in the next round: to support the preparation of their Smart City Proposals and selection of projects if they identify TOD as a relevant strategy.

The publication is available to view on tod.niua.org, along with the other deliverables from the project.

Mapping MoUD Principles to TOD Constructs