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Good public transport must for lively and safe city streets

Gurugram has very few bus stops and most do not have any bus shelter and people just wait on the road, often at the risk of their safety.

opinion Updated: Aug 23, 2018 09:32 IST
Gurugram,public transport in gurugram,gurgaon
The rapid metro in Gurugram runs empty or half full very often as it is expensive for the short distance that it runs through. (Parveen Kumar / HT File Photo )

Public transport is a public space and a public good. The availability of an efficient and safe transport network is key to people using it. There are many forms of public transport, both formal and informal. Within the formal system, it is primarily the rail, metro and bus systems which ferry millions of commuters in cities across the world. An oft quoted statement is that a great city is one where the rich use public transport, not where everyone uses private transport. Good public transport is a leveller where all residents of a city move around and use public space.

We have seen the model of city building over the past century has been one of privileging the car over all other forms. Roads are built to move cars faster. Gurugram has been no exception to this model of urban planning. It is possible now for more wealthy residents to never interact with the street except from a private car.

Good public transport is a way to wean people off their private cars. It is increasingly becoming obvious that the madness on our streets especially during rush hour is becoming impossible, as well as unsustainable. While increased number of cabs facilitate mobility, the fact remains that they are adding to the burden on the roads. Drive past several areas of the city and you will see cabs hanging around and waiting. In addition, the level of pollution in the NCR region has reached alarming levels. More private cars will only be a recipe for disaster.

As a city we need to invest in reliable, inexpensive, safe and efficient public transport. The rapid metro in Gurugram runs empty or half full very often as it is expensive for the short distance that it runs through. Informal systems can coexist along side formal systems, but they need to be regulated and safety needs to be ensured. While these are affordable, effort needs to be made to formalise the system, so that it becomes efficient as well as safe. A bus transport system is a must in a city of over 20 lakh population. The delay in creating this bus system is leading to a city which is constantly stuck in traffic jams.

Along with this, we need to improve first and last mile connectivity. This involves building good waiting places, whether at stations or bus stops. Gurugram has very few bus stops and most do not have any bus shelter and people just wait on the road, often at the risk of their safety. Bus stops and stations should be well designed, have good lighting, seats and waiting places, security and well organised onward transport. Currently when you step out at most metro stations, the situation is chaotic.

For a short while, the police maintained order at HUDA City Centre station and autos were made to line up and wait for the next passenger, a system which we see at airports and stations as well as bus stops in many cities. Good public transport along with last mile connectivity ensures that people use the streets thereby making them safer and livelier. We need active, safe, lively streets. For this good public transport is a must.

(The author works on issues of women’s safety and rights in cities)

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 09:32 IST