Big Ideas for India Contest: Question 12: How do we address India’s mass transportation needs?

India’s transportation sector needs rapid change. For many decades, we barely built quality roads or added to the train network. Over the past few years, the slight momentum in road-building at the turn of the century has also slowed.While air travel has boomed with competition in the sector leading to increased availability and lower prices, congestion at airports is also increasing. Traffic jams are a daily affair in most urban areas of India.

What should the underlying framework be for mass transportation of passengers and goods across India? Should we construct more roads or build more airports or grow the train infrastructure?

Contest Overview.

11 thoughts on “Big Ideas for India Contest: Question 12: How do we address India’s mass transportation needs?

  1. I think we stand at an amazing inflection point where we can shoot multiple birds with one shot. if we just improve the road infrastructure a lot, that can be used as a catalyst for overall economic development (like it happened in the US). Look at the Nano. replacing all autos with Nanos is a classic example of what I am talking about.

    Getting from point A to point B is very expensive in India, even if you count in public transport. it is just out of sync with how the rest of the economy works. For this to change, we need to attack the supply side. Unfortunately the supply side is handicapped by infrastructure.

    Clever laws could also be part of the solution. With metro projects being taken up in multiple cities, it is only a question of time before we get infra right in this country.

  2. We just need the Govt to pass a legislation “The Right to good roads”. This will work like magic just like how the Right to Work (NREGA) is working & the Right to Education& Right to Food are going to work.

  3. Transportation based on Ring-Roads is functional but is still getting hammered under ever-increasing volume. These systems are designed to carry the volume however functionally breaks at peak-travel times (office hours, weekends etc).

    Policy Suggestions –
    a. Traffic Shaping
    It’s not a good strategy to design capacity for peak traffic. Using traffic shaping techniques can make a big difference. (examples – dynamic tolls, dynamic maximum speeds, dynamic pricing of public transport and taxi services etc. )

    b. Traffic Caps
    Beijing applied 250k new cars limit this year, while Delhi is currently at run rate of 375k new cars this year. Either they have to reduce the run-rate by increasing registration prices, or put an absolute cap per year based on capacity available.

    c. Cheaper and Predictable Public Transport –
    Public transportation systems are not cheap, because of multiple reasons (old buses, two employees per bus, people not buying tickets etc.) – Again technology can make the experience much better, and they can charge higher for predictable and timely services, prepaid Smart cards which don’t require a conductor on each bus.

    d. Reverse Auctions in Railways
    Replace Tatkal system with real-time Reverse-auctioning of tickets to recover true cost of ticket, while allowing urgent travels. Currently urgent travelers are forced to go by flight despite there being plenty of room in the train. This should bring better experience to travelers while improving revenue without increasing ticket prices.
    The feed-in and feed-out transport services may be synchronized with trains, where passengers indicate their end destination which helps bus / auto / taxis to pre-book the pickups and cutting end-to-end time of travelling. Currently for short-distance travels, the time taken to go and coming back from railway station is a big variable factor in choosing the mode of transport.

    Overall – More transparency in operating transportation systems and future plans for citizens to take wiser decisions in advance.

  4. Mass transportation needs to be handled with atleast a 15 year vision in mind. Number projections need to be done carefully, they can get outdated very easily in growing sectors.

  5. Develop information highway rather than vehicular highways and promote working from home in both public and private enterprises.

  6. Bicycling:
    Urban bicycle tracks.
    Free bicycle parking lots on public transportation terminals & office buildings.

    Tax Credit:
    Tax credit for people using bicycles, car pooling and public transportation for office travel. This will take few bikes and cars out of roads and may lead to lesser traffic and lesser Pollutants.

    Strict traffic rules enforcement & education:
    Even though poor roads and infrastructure mainly cause most of the traffic jam and chaos, part of the blame goes to driver’s disobedience and law enforcement corruption.

    More train tracks and trains:
    There should be a huge multiyear investment on urban railways & high speed rail system. Government can privatize part of the routes for few years if funding is an issue.

    Reduction in number of public transportation buses on road at a given point of time:
    Effective route and time management.
    Double decker buses.
    Buses should be designed to accommodate more people in less chaotic way. Buses that travel with in smaller routes should have seating only for children / elder and disabled.
    Designated boarding terminals should be located little farther from main road.
    Effective boarding procedure to minimize the timing required with automated ticketing.

  7. 1. Desubsidise petroleum products. Go to Mumbai or Delhi and you will find lots of people using own-vehicle. If they can buy a 5,00,000 rupee car can’t they afford petrol.
    2. The water-ways in India are less developed, we can develop them.
    3. As I have said already, several times now, nothing will happen if population will not be controlled.
    4. Another idea is related to traffic jams-why do traffic jams occur. because lots of people have same office timings. If government schedule a difference in office-timings things may change.

  8. mass transportation is going to be big problem in india if the current mass transit system isnt overhauled. now how do we do are some ways.
    1 adapt the build- operate-transfer [bot] system which is in use pretty much
    2 necessary paper works for the contractor/companies should be done through single window system
    3 govt control over the pricing the companies that charges the passenger.

    coming to the mass transportation part.
    a] subways which are and underground transportation system should be used widely.
    b] use of aerial transportation other than airtrans port such as hanging rail using the same road system [through the center of the road]
    c] educate people with help of advertisements to use mass transportation systems than using a car or SUV thus reducing the traffic conjetion.
    d] smaller airports which can used by planes with
    a quick turn around [this only works with a better fuel hedging and a decent price]
    e] ring roads that encircle a city[thereby reducing incoming traffic to the city] with a connection to the travellers to the city.this ring roads can be used also for small rail network.
    f] encourage walking and cycling for workers who live close by to the work,ofcourse the walkway as well as cycle paths and parking should be provided
    g]better traffic management with cameras and controllable traffic lights,use of live traffic updates through a medium like fm /am and encourage people to use it

  9. 1) Increase rail network first. We have hardly done anything in terms of improvements in this sector.

    2) Increase and improve the existing road networks . Many places do not have roads and where they are, condition is very bad. Even our national highways are just 2 lane roads in many places.

    3) Provide fast rail/road routes for long distance transportation. We need to build this infra and we must reduce time required to reach to any part in the country from any other part. This network should also be able to transport goods.

    4) Though air travel sector is doing great, the network is still not great. It’s just big metro where we have airports and we need to go one tier down and provide these airports at district level.

    5) Fossil fuels are declining so India should invest in transportation media using renewable energy sources.

    6) Overall quality of work done in transportation sectors needs to be improved by order of magnitude.

  10. Atanu,
    I posted this as a response to Q13 wrongly. Sorry. It was my response to Q12 (again pasted below)

    The govt should have certain principles:
    1) medium neutral – This means it is not partial to roads / rails. Go for a balanced plan which understands the advantage and limitations of all mediums.
    2) define goals
    3) transparency

    The recent 3G auction was fantastic purely because :

    1) the government did not get try to dictate every single detail, it set ground rules which are easy to understand and internationally accepted 2) the whole process was quite transparent (but could be better).

    We have a system which works maybe we should try it in other places.

    Why not auction road or sea port construction projects through the same auction system ?

  11. Hi

    Can we use conveyor belt efficiently in to the city where people uses their own vehicle for small distance work. It will reduce the load on mass transportation. I know that it will consume lots of energy, but simultaniously we can install solar pannel or somthing lke that on the top of belt to save energy.