Cars cannot remain the preferred form of daily transport in India and the country should develop a multi-modal passenger transport system to make more people use public transport for their daily commute. Apart from developing roads and rail, waterways should also be developed, it was suggested.
Despite the fact that 45 per cent of India's urban population uses public transport, only 25 of the country’s 88 cities with populations of over half a million have formal public transport systems.
Primary mass transit systems, such as metros, need to be supplemented by feeders, interchanges and parking lots to ensure connectivity and convenience of use. “It must be multi-modal, supplementing mass transit with a range of last-mile connectivity alternatives such as cars, two-wheelers, bicycles, rickshaws, three-wheelers, buses and taxis,” said Siddhartha Lal Managing Director and CEO of Eicher Motors.
He was all praise for the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Delhi and also said that the country should implement the best system prevalent worldwide. There is no point implementing twentieth century systems now.
“Many people are complaining that the BRTS has increased their commuting time but has anyone ever asked how smooth the system has made the journey of the bus commuters,” Lal said.
Around 50 fast-growing urban centres need urgent transportation planning and are rapidly expanding to house up to 5 million people. These cities offer good opportunities to develop infrastructure before facing problems associated with major cities, such as congestion, poor air quality, a rising number of accidents and growing consumption of imported fuel.
A suggestion from the house was that waterways could also be used to make commuting easier in cities like Mumbai and Kolkata where this is possible. To this, Managing Director of Urban Mass Transit Company Om Prakash Agarwal said, “Yes, it is a good idea. This is happening in Guwahati and Kolkata. But the systems used in these places are dated,” To the question whether small cars like the Nano would worsen traffic condition, everyone disagreed.
“All these can never be a problem if cars are used not for commuting but only for an outing in the evening,” said Lal. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Renault Carlos Ghosn agreed.
The panellists highlighted the fact that planners had failed to provide adequate, integrated, timely infrastructure that is well-suited to the needs of Indian cities.
Solutions like shoulders and drains on highways and flyovers to help motorists weather the Indian monsoon have been ignored.