'City's public transport modes need to get better'

They should supplement each other, say experts

Delhi’s aspiration to be a smart city, which among other features needs safer roads with less congestion and private vehicles, is inextricably interlinked with the popularity of multiple modes of public transport – still a distant milestone, say experts.

The popularity and modal share of public transport depends on various elements that make use of different modes of public transport comfortable, affordable, fast and less physically straining.

A perfect scenario in a smart city is that these features are common to all modes of public transport which supplement each other. One major reason for the failure of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor in south Delhi was lack of its integration with other modes of transport that could have fed commuters to it and popularised it.

“The integration of various modes of public transport can bridge the gap between a commuter’s expectation and delivery of a comfortable journey – a reason often cited by private vehicle users for avoiding public transport,” said N Ranganathan, former professor of the School of Planning and Architecture.

Eighty per cent of Delhi’s 1,500-odd road accidents involve two-wheelers and pedestrians. And a major reason for people using two-wheelers is the convenience of point to point travel – an area in which the existing mix of public transport is found lacking.

Transport and road safety experts said the Metro’s commuter carrying capacity is 25 million daily but it is currently managing to serve only 1.5 million daily.

“A major reason for this is poor multi-modal integration that causes a disincentive for commuters who want to use the Metro while harmonising it with other modes of public transport – Metro feeder buses, DTC buses, autorickshaws, gramin sewa vehicles and taxis,” said Ranganathan.  

Delhi Transport Corporation spokesman P R Minhas said: “In Singapore, city buses wait right outside the platform the moment Metro commuters step out of the stations. This should happen in Delhi as well but that would require creating more space for other modes of transport at metro stations,” he said.

The example of Ahmedabad’s ‘Janmarg’ BRT is often cited by experts to show the integration of a public transport system with other modes.

Abhijit Lokre, associate professor, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University, who was part of the team which designed Janmarg, said: “The city transport buses in Ahmadabad work in a loop to serve as feeders to the BRT buses.”

“Fare integration is also aimed so that the passengers can travel with common smart cards,” he said.

“Since 60 per cent of Janmarg’s passengers are pedestrians, the autorickshaws serve as the last mile connectors,” said Lokre.

Kanika Kalra of the Institute of Urban Transport suggested a common authority to integrate Delhi’s public transport modes.

“At present, the Metro system, the city buses, the intermediate public transport like autorickshaws and taxis are all operating under separate authorities. The Delhi Metro, the DTC and the city government’s transport departments separately control these three modes but have no common policy,” she said.

“There is a need for operational, fare and infrastructure integration like Singapore where a single ticket can help you use different public transport vehicles,” she said.

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