While Delhi grapples with the odd-even car formula, a study of the Smart City proposals submitted to the Centre show that a large number of cities have stressed on redesigning the way they manage their urban mobility. Most plans are either for greater pedestrianisation, creating cycling tracks and promoting other forms of non-motorised transport such as GPS-enabled e-rickshaws. At the other end of the spectrum, plans include smart parking or IT-enabled solutions for traffic management.
An examination of the proposals that are currently being evaluated by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) show that a large number of cities have proposed to create more pedestrian zones. Ludhiana, Moradabad, Vadodara Bhubaneswar, Bilaspur, Ranchi and Tiruchirapalli, to name a few, have also mooted the idea of promoting cycling, bike sharing or e-rickshaws. Very few cities such as Surat or Tiruchirapalli have submitted plans for strengthening public transportation through Bus Rapid Transport or feeder buses.
The Smart City mission has two components: area-based development for smaller areas within the city and pan-city development where one idea is implemented all throughout. According to officials from the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), among other things, area-based plans allow for the purchase of buses and other means to augment public transportation. Pan-city development has no provision for such capital investment on transport but requires the application of information technology-based solutions for better traffic management.
“The basic idea of pan-city development is to apply digital technology to existing transportation so as to bring in an efficiency component, reduce transaction cost and travel time. It is not meant to be capital intensive. It could be having digital bike docks as in the case of London or Manhattan or provision of real-time traffic information along roads as Barcelona does at its bus stops,” said urban expert Saswat Bandyopadhyay, professor of planning at the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University. Pan city development plans for metros such as New Delhi and Mumbai have proposed smart parking to managed the increasing volume of cars while Agra has mooted the One Agra, one card’ for cashless transaction across public transport systems, museums and other tourist attractions.
Vinay Anadkat, a transport expert at World Resources Institute, said that the stipulated size of projects up to a maximum of 500 acres under area development is too small for implementing public transport projects for metros or buses. “We have analysed about 45 proposals and what most cities have done is submitted plans for transport infrastructure under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Application of technology to these transport modes has been proposed under the Smart Cities mission,” he said.
Bhubaneswar municipal commissioner Krishnan Kumar states that the city presently has about 145 buses while the requirement is for 450 to 500 so that buses are available at every five-minute interval.
“We are hoping to procure these over the next three years using our own funds and will improve the traffic efficiency under the Smart City mission,” said Kumar. Some of the pan city solutions proposed in the Bhubaneswar’s proposal include sensor-based traffic lighting and transport systems, installation of GPS, CCTVs and on-board announcements in buses, establishing a central control room and video analysis for traffic management. This is in addition to plans for promoting non-motorised transport, walking and cycling and multimodal integration of bus terminals and railway stations. Kumar added that urban mobility emerged as the highest priority area for the city following an extensive consultation covering 2.75 lakh citizens who account for more than a quarter of the city’s population. “Most voted for improving urban mobility followed by issues related to water, power and waste management,” said Kumar.
According to a Bloomberg Philanthropies, which recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the Union government, citizen engagement is one of the decisive components for shortlisting 20 of the 100 Smart Cities contenders for priority funding in 2016. The names of these 20 cities are expected to be announced by the end of this month.Similarly in case of Ludhiana, following the citizen’s engagement process, 85 per cent opined that the city is highly polluted with a similar number stating that public transportation needs to be improved. The result was Smart City theme of “Ludhiana: the clean and green bicycle capital” which aims at tie-ups with the local auto parts manufacturing industry, creating bicycle highways along canals, dedicated cycle tracks along footpaths and public bike sharing stations.
Similarly in case of Ludhiana, following the citizen’s engagement process, 85 per cent opined that the city is highly polluted with a similar number stating that public transportation needs to be improved. The result was Smart City theme of “Ludhiana: the clean and green bicycle capital” which aims at tie-ups with the local auto parts manufacturing industry, creating bicycle highways along canals, dedicated cycle tracks along footpaths and public bike sharing stations.