Maharashtra comes up with plan to boost walking, cycling, reduce pollution and traffic
Mumbai city news: The Maharashtra government has drafted its first urban transport policy to battle increasing pollution and traffic congestionUpdated: Jun 07, 2017 09:18 IST
Annoyed by increasing pollution and traffic? Don’t worry, the state has paid heed to your problems.
To battle increasing pollution and traffic congestion, the state has drafted its first urban transport policy that prioritises infrastructure development for walking, cycling and public transport and puts an emphasis on reducing private vehicles.
The draft policy, open to the public for suggestions and objections, calls for measures such as user charges to discourage personal motor vehicles, high parking fees, reducing the overall supply of parking, transit-oriented development and prioritising funds for sustainable non-motorised transport projects. The Pune chapter of the Institute of Transportation & Development Policy — an organisation based in New York that promotes environmentally sustainable transportation policies — helped the Maharashtra government draft the plan.
An official from the state urban development department said, “It will take another two to three months for the government to receive and hear all the suggestions and objections after which we will publish the final policy. The policy will be immediately applicable for all urban agglomerations and notified metropolitan regions. All other municipal corporations and notified townships will have four years to adopt the policy.”
This is Maharashtra’s first attempt at having a state urban transport policy, based on the Centre’s national urban transport policy, listing out goals for sustainable non-motorised transport with guidelines for their implementation and financing. While some individual cities such as Mumbai have undertaken comprehensive transportation studies in the past, most of the urban transport planning by the state government as well as urban local bodies has been focused on improving infrastructure for private cars. Meanwhile, the number of motor vehicles in the state has burgeoned to 2.93 crore in 2015-16 from 66 lakh in 2000-01, according to the state’s economic survey report.
The draft policy calls for 80% of all trips in a city to be made through walking, cycling or public transport. Using transit-oriented development, the policy sets a target of having 80% of the city’s population living within 500m of a basic public transport service and a minimum of 50% within 500m of a mass transit network. Similarly, the policy’s goals also involve ensuring that 60% of all jobs are within half a kilometre of a basic public transport service with a minimum frequency of 12 buses an hour, and 40% are within 500m of a mass transit network.
According to the policy, all civic bodies should have a ‘strategic mobility plan’ outlining a time-bound programme of achieving the policy’s goals. The state government, on the other hand, will be required to update Development Plans of cities to incorporate a transit-oriented development approach, allowing more population density near public transport nodes, mixed use zones and affordable housing in these areas.
For state government financing, too, the policy suggests prioritising projects that are primarily related to walking, cycling and public transport. According to the draft policy, the government will not fund any projects for expansion of parking spaces, and will fund construction of urban roads only if they are complete with infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.
Harshad Abhyankar, coordinator of policy advocacy at the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy said, “Although there is a national urban transport policy, urban transport is a state-level subject and it is more effective for the state to have its own policy. We relied on the national policy as well as experiments from across Europe and the U.S. in formulating Maharashtra’s draft. There is a definite intent on behalf of the state government. Although implementation could be tricky, it is basically a process of step-by-step improvements along with gradual deterrents for private transport.”