Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New Delhi | Published: June 13, 2020 4:25:47 am
In the long-term, cities are recommended to have cashless bookings of bicycles, strict regulation of NMT zones, widening of footpaths and others.
Estimating that the “90 per cent dip” in public transport ridership volumes during the lockdown is unlikely to pick up any time soon, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has called on states and Union Territories to come up with “alternative modes of transport” and “encourage and revive Non-Motorised Transport (NMT)” such as bicycles.
“Re-establishing the earlier level of ridership in public transport is a big challenge for cities, as people may be looking for more options, especially personal modes that allow for safer travel in the post lockdown scenario… Such dramatic and dynamic changes in demand and supply will require complementing these public transport systems with alternative modes of transit,” says the advisory, signed by Secretary Durga Shankar Mishra.
The advisory says the “sense of insecurity in the minds of the public in travelling in public transport during these testing times” will in all probability lead to an increase in the number of private vehicles on the road, which, in turn, will add to pollution and “eat away space for other modes of public transport besides adversely affecting road safety”.
It goes on to estimate that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Metro rails in urban centres are likely to get only 25 to 50 per cent of pre-Covid ridership. With 10 million passengers on these systems daily, that could leave 5-7.5 million people needing new forms of transportation, the document said.
To solve this, the advisory cites examples from other countries that have invested in cycling infrastructure during the epidemic to provide alternatives to both Metro systems and cars.
Outlining a three-pronged strategy, the advisory talks of urban transport interventions that need to be taken in a short-term of six months, medium-term of a year and long-term of one to three years.
In the short-term, the ministry says, authorities must make the use of Aarogya Setu application mandatory, reduce public transport services in high-case-load areas, develop plans for bus fleet expansion, rearrange seating capacity, encourage shorter trips so that people don’t have to depend on motorised transport, create temporary footpaths, and close lanes to encourage walking and cycling.
In the medium-term, the advisory says, cities must create permanent, interconnected infrastructure for walking and cycling, remove encroachments and parking from footpaths and cycle tracks, reduce signal timings, install speed monitors and cameras, promote contactless payments, and conduct impact assessment to understand post-lockdown demand.
In the long-term, cities are recommended to have cashless bookings of bicycles, strict regulation of NMT zones, widening of footpaths, a carbon tax or credit system for cyclists, and a database to understand mobility patterns.
Talking of a surge of alternative transportation initiatives across the world during the pandemic, the advisory cities the examples of New York, which introduced 40 miles of new NMT lanes for cyclists; Oakland (California), where 10 per cent of streets where closed for motor vehicles; Italy, which got 22 new miles of cycling lanes; Auckland (New Zealand), which have pop-up bike lanes; and China, which witnessed a 150 per cent increase in bike-sharing trips.
The advisory notes that unlike other countries, private vehicle ownership is relatively low in India and the majority will need new transport modes to maintain social distancing and dissuade them from using their motor vehicles.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App.
© The Indian Express (P) Ltd