Transporting Delhi to future
The transport revolution in Delhi began with the opening of an 8.5-km Metro corridor between Shahdara and Tis Hazari in December 2002. Then came the cherry and green-coloured low-floor buses in the government-run DTC fleet in 2008.
And by giving an in-principle nod to the first monorail corridor in east Delhi, the Delhi government has taken a bigger leap forward. Add to it pod cars — small personalised pilot-less taxis which either run on rails or are suspended to an elevated track and are awaiting government’s approval — and Delhi will soon have an integrated multi-modal transit system in the next few years.
There is also the Delhi Metro that will have a 416km network by 2021 and will run along arterial routes. Senior Delhi government officials said the monorail and pod cars will serve as the perfect feeder systems to bring people from some highly congested and densely populated areas to the Metro network.
Proposed Mumbai monorail | Proposed Pod Taxi Route
With a population of 17 million and fast expanding satellite townships, experts believe that Delhi’s public transport system is too week to cater to the huge population growth. No wonder that at 69 lakh, the number of vehicles registered in Delhi is much more than the combined number of vehicles registered
in three other metropolitans of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and witnesses an annual growth of 8%-9%.
“To make people travel by public transport, it is important to give them a fast-moving, comfortable and modern option. While Metro has changed the way people travel in Delhi, the introduction of monorail and personalised pod taxis would certainly strengthen Delhi’s public transport system,” says a senior Delhi government official.
“But the challenge will be to integrate all modes of transport and ensure seamless movement of commuters from one mode to another,” he adds.
Senior Delhi government officials said a recent study conducted by RITES — a government company that provides consultancy in road and transport projects — on transport demand and forecast study also recommended light rail transit (read monorail) and alternative modes of transport to streamline city’s public transport.
Transport experts, however, are wary of the timing at which the approval for monorail has come. With municipal elections in Delhi just around the corner, experts suspect it might just be a ploy to attract voters.
“The government had earlier announced three monorail corridors. The transport department had even carried out a detailed feasibility study for them. But the government later shelved the project, citing huge capital investment. How come the government has suddenly woken up now to feel that the city needs monorail,” says a transport expert on the condition of anonymity.
Transit systems in other countries
Kuala Lumpur: The city’s transport system is a perfect example of integrated transport network. RapidKL Rail or the monorail runs over a stretch of 8.6 km across the city and connects office areas with markets and integrates with light rail transit (LRT) system at three stations. LRT’s two corridors run within a range of 50km in the city.
Heathrow airport: Pod cars have recently been introduced at world’s busiest international airport in London. A fleet of 21 driverless pod cars ferry passengers 1.2 miles from Terminal 5 to two stations at the airport’s parking lot. ULTra-PRT, the company who developed the system, says low capital, low operational costs and low energy use make pod cars more beneficial than traditional transit systems.
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