Observer Research Foundation: Public transport – A key element of smart cities

Observer Research Foundation: Public transport – A key element of smart cities

On 8 August 2018, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council Speaker Corey Johnson passed the bill to cap the number of for-hire Uber and other ride-share services for one year. The move, they say, will curtail the worsening traffic on the streets of New York and improve low driver wages. Similarly, in London, Uber recently regained its taxi license after the company agreed to stricter regulations. These incidents not only indicate the menace of increasing private vehicles in urban spaces, but underline the urgency of having efficient mass public transit systems.

Today when India, through the Smart City project, plans to ease the ever-growing pressure of its burgeoning urban population on services, one of the key factors determining its success will be good mobility and transportation system. The pollution levels in Delhi, traffic snarls in Bangalore or low average speed of mobility in Mumbai is a clear indication that out cities must urgently build sustainable public transport systems. Indian cities are already facing a plethora of problems like severe congestion, deteriorating air quality and increasing road rage and road accidents. With an increasing urban population that is projected to more than double to 590 million by 2030, the traffic situation is set to worsen further.

Data indicates that citizens are largely dependent on private modes of transport for their city rides. The number of registered vehicles increased from 55 million in 2001 to 159 million in 2012. The share of two wheelers has increased by four percent from 2001 to 2012 and the share of cars, jeeps and taxis has increased by 0.2 percent. Alarmingly, the share of buses has decreased by 0.34 percent over the same period, showing under-investment in improving the capacity of public transport systems.

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