'Public transport should woo car users towards mass transportation'

  • Prajakta Chavan Rane, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 09, 2014 22:34 IST

With more than 1 crore commuters travelling to work and back every day in suburban trains and buses, the public transport system and infrastructure in Mumbai should be largely citizen-centric and designed to serve the next generation, which will be more comfortable with technology, said Aditya Rath, associate director, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in an international seminar on Mega City Mass Transit Options, conducted by Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation.

Though city-based transport authorities have commissioned various modes of public transport and infrastructure projects recently such as the Santacruz-Chembur link road, eastern freeway, metro and mono rail, none of them have inspired enough enthusiasm in passengers to switch over from suburban trains or private cars, to transport systems like the metro and monorail, transport experts present at the event pointed out.

“The Santacruz-Chembur link road or eastern freeway has reduced traffic on other roads, but has failed to shift car users to mass transport systems like the metro,” said Rath.

He explained that at present, our public transport systems are designed to take passengers from point A to B. Rather, our focus should be on providing a comfortable commute from source to destination, and this is where urban planning and an integrated transport network plays a key role.

Public transport should now be designed keeping the needs of the next generation in mind. Children born after 2010 will be extremely tech-savvy, and their commuting needs will differ accordingly, experts pointed out. They will have a higher spending capacity and will look for comfortable travel, instead of struggling in multiple modes of transport.

“In foreign cities, soon after people land at the airport, they get an alert on their mobile phones informing them about the modes of public transport that can be taken. This is how communication and technology plays a role in persuading the public to use mass transport,” said Rath.

Rishi Aggarwal, research fellow at Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said, “It is true that instead of adopting best practices prevalent in global cities like London and Singapore where people are persuaded to travel in mass transport, we are investing public money in developing more infrastructure for private transport, such as roads, expressways and highways.”

Countries to learn from

The 7 countries ranked above average in the 2014 Urban Mobility Index. The common thing among all these countries is that they have efficient public transportation systems, resulting in minimum car usage:

Overall score in points
What makes them above average in the urban mobility index
Hong Kong
Despite being one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with more than 7 million people packed into a land mass of just 1,100 sq km, Hong Kong has developed the most advanced urban mobility system in the world. Public transport accounts for more than 64% of passenger trips. Also, the number of private vehicles registered per capita is the lowest here.
The Swedish capital has one of the best cycling networks, spread over 4,041km of lanes per 1,000sq km. Its traffic-related deaths are the lowest in the world.
Cycling accounts for a very high share of passenger trips (33%) thanks to a dense cycling network, occupying 3,502 km per 1,000sq km.
The Danish capital has the safest urban mobility system in the world, with 4.1 traffic deaths per million citizens. It also has the lowest penetration rate of cars in Western Europe, and the use of individual transport is on the decline.
Vienna’s public transport system has the highest share of journeys in Western Europe, with 39% of trips made on its services.
Singapore’s public transport is highly developed, accounting for more than 48% of the passenger trips. Thanks to high taxes and duties, car use is discouraged via congestion pricing, in which more charges are levied for use of roads during rush hour.
In addition to the outstanding performance of its extensive rail network, its cycle-lane network is also advanced, accounting for 3,520 km per thousand square kilometres.

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