In order to address the twin challenges of pollution and congestion, a number of urban mobility initiatives have been launched across cities in Karnataka to make them centres of economic growth and well being for residents, writes Vivek Ratnakar of Elerts News Network (ENN).
India’s fast transforming urban landscape requires its cities to create sustainable living conditions for their residents, and an efficient, inclusive and sustainable urban mobility is one of the key pillars underpinning this transformation process. Mobility in the cities of tomorrow is set to change significantly with proliferation of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles entering urban fleets.
It is, therefore, important for India to find more sustainable ways to transport people and goods. Currently, the urban mobility systems in India have a set of challenges that must be addressed immediately. Major Indian cities are now consistently ranked amongst the world’s most congested cities, and high levels of congestion have huge cost in form of reduced productivity and fuel waste. In cities like Bengaluru, situation has reached such alarming levels that citizens are spending over three to four hours a day commuting between home and work. Moreover, many Indian cities have been featuring in the top most polluted cities in the world, which is leading to significant health and welfare losses.
India needs holistic urban mobility planning to make our cities pollutionfree with seamless, safe, affordable and accessible transportation facilities. The future of mobility in India has been aptly defined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘7Cs Vision’ — Common, Connected, Convenient, Congestion-free, Charged, Clean, and Cutting-edge.
The National Urban Transportation Policy (NUTP) was launched in 2006 and revised in 2014 with an aim to provide efficient and affordable mobility in Indian cities under a mobility framework that is contextual, suited to the geographical, social and economic needs of our cities and citizens.
Keeping in view the significance of developing an inclusive, efficient and sustainable urban mobility, the Government of Karnataka decided to establish an exclusive Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) in 2007— the first Indian state to do so—to coordinate, plan and implement urban transport matters in the state in line with the National Urban Transport Policy. It was also the first time when qualified personnel trained in urban transport planning were introduced into the government system.
Since its inception, the Directorate has undertaken many initiatives including service level benchmarking in Bangalore; preparation of policies on parking; preparation of comprehensive mobility plans for cities in Karnataka; development of plans for NMT infrastructure implementations, etc. The Directorate is also spearheading the implementation of Bus rapid Transit system between the twin cities of Hubli and Dharwad.
In Karnataka, Comprehensive Mobility Plans (CMP) were drawn out for all the major cities taking into view origin and destination flow of traffic, identification of major traffic corridors and feeder corridors, land use, etc.
For Bengaluru, the largest and most populous city in Karnataka, the focus has been on increasing the mode share of public transport from 30 percent to 73 percent by 2035. In the last Budget, the state government allotted Rs 8,300 crore for development of citizenfriendly infrastructure in the city including elevated corridors, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, smart parking systems, LED street lighting, last mile connectivity for metro, along with a peripheral ring road.
A draft policy, prepared by iDeck in association with the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) and Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), proposes a total of 80 infrastructure works estimated to be implemented in three phases at Rs 2.30 lakh crore. Besides funding from the state and Central governments, the draft policy suggests ways to mobilise additional resource through land value capture, parking fee, congestion fee, revenue from advertisements and imposition of a surcharge on certain infrastructure projects.
SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY SOLUTIONS-THE WAY FORWARD
Known as IT capital and startup capital of the country, the Karnataka government envisions making the state a hub for the production of alternative fuel vehicles.
Realising the relevance of electric mobility early on, Karnataka has emerged as a frontrunner in this space, and is determined to play a vital role in driving EV penetration. To maintain the lead share of Karnataka as a preferred destination for attracting investments in manufacture of electric vehicles, Karnataka has come up with an Electric Vehicle & Energy Storage Policy. To promote EV adoption, the state government has also announced to replace 50 percent of petrol and diesel vehicles used by the government staff in Bengaluru with electric vehicles.
Karnataka is the first state to announce subsidy on electric vehicles for the sector to bloom under a comprehensive and well-designed ‘Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy 2017’. Karnataka’s policy framework for electric and sustainable mobility in the fields of electric vehicles, charging infrastructure and battery technology is set to be a game changer in the Industry and will be a model for other states to replicate The state has also been playing a pioneering role in EV space with India’s first ever electric technology manufacturing hub built in Bengaluru by Mahindra Electric and India’s first electric vehicle charging stations setup by BESCOM. The government is also contemplating preferential parking for EV and adequate signage in the city to guide EV owners to parking slots.
SMART MOBILITY IN SMART CITIES
The capability to manage and share data will be the key differentiators in the future of mobility, and managing the data from the first mile to the last mile will provide incredible insight and power. Karnataka, with its seven smart cities, has the potential to create a new mobility ecosystem that is smart, shared and connected. Smart city projects like building of Central Command & Control Centres, walkways and cycle tracks, smart bus shelters, smart traffic management systems and procurement of e-buses have already been rolled out in smart cities across Karnataka.
The various initiatives taken in smart cities across Karnataka have taken into account the long term benefits of investing in smart mobility systems that leverage the power of ICT and internet to deliver world-class quality services to citizens. The investment made in smart mobility solutions will go a long way in not only modernizing their infrastructure and help drive economic growth, but also creating jobs opportunities for the 21st century.