Connect Karo 2017: Metro is passe, time ripe for a bus revolution in Delhi, feel experts
The Metro revolution, experts believe, is passé.
With an existing network of 213 kilometres and another 243km in the pipeline, the mass rapid transit system has achieved its goal of making the mode popular among Delhiites. The focus now needs to on making the city’s buses a viable transport option, they believe.
And the government too seems to have sense this need for change.
Durga Shankar Mishra, additional secretary, ministry of urban development on Wednesday acknowledged that the Metro involved huge investment. He said that a Metro Policy would soon come for Delhi, but added that other cities need to rethink if transportation system was actually a viable travel solution.
“Metro has come a long way. Today, Delhi has 213 kms operational Metro line which touches seven cities. We will have 800kms of metro by 2021. But, Metro has limited connectivity and can’t connect the whole city. It’s a very costly proposition. Work should be done on last mile connectivity instead,” Mishra said.
Mishra added that the ministry is working on a ‘green urban mobility’ project that would involve non-motorised vehicles and improve infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
One solution to make buses more viable could be by making them glamorous. “We have to get creative and bring the glamour back in bus travels. So, even the marketing strategy has to change completely,” said Anumita Roychudhury, executive director, CSE.
She said public transport is killed for want of access to prime land. “All the depots of Delhi are on prime land that is used only in the night to park buses. We should use it as an asset to make money. Urban transport fund strategy needs to be taken seriously. Even in Europe, they have to use tax payers money to support public transport systems. But here we tax the buses more than the cars,” Roychudhury said.
According to Abhay Damle, joint secretary, Union ministry of road transport and highways, Delhi in 2017 needs more buses than the projected requirement of 10,000 buses stated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) way back in 2010.
“The viability gap has to be scientifically calculated and plugged by the state. The fleet size of all State Transport Undertakings have remained constant for the past 10-15 years. This is because the STUs have to act towards achieving a ‘welfare state’. Public buses have to make trips that are not profitable,” Damle said.
Citing the example of Beijing which has a population similar to Delhi, OP Agarwal, executive director of the Indian School of Business, said that the Chinese city had 25,000 buses whereas the national capital had merely 5,000. Bengaluru has 6,000 buses but about half the population as Delhi.
Damle informed that India has 12 lakh buses and only 1.4 lakh State Transport Undertaking buses actually plying.