Training on Sustainable Urban Transport for City Agencies
21st and 22nd February 2013 | Dehradun: EMBARQ India conducted a two-day training program on sustainable urban transport for city agencies, which was organized by IDFC Foundation as part of the Regional Capacity Building Hubs (RCBH) initiative of the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, and was held in Dehradun from 21-22 February, 2013. The course participants included 25 officials from urban development and public works agencies in Dehradun, Mussoorrie, Haridwar, Haldwani and Jaipur.
From the onset, the participants were eager to share the challenges and day-to-day problems faced by them while dealing with urban transport planning, operations and management in cities. These issues included traffic congestion, road encroachment, parking troubles, deteriorating public and intermediate public transport services and its impact on the tourism economy and the environment, lack of proper enforcement and the pressures of urban sprawl. Lack of a clear vision for the cities, Institutional co-ordination and inter-departmental communication were also stated as the overarching challenges.
Amit Bhatt, Prashanth Bachu and Chhavi Dhingra from EMBARQ India, made in-depth presentations and facilitated discussions around these issues. On day one, presentations included general features of sustainable transport in cities and creating a vision for mobility, concepts on integrated land-use and transport planning, and examples of how institutional integration has been achieved in cities like London. The second day was spent discussing success stories from India like the Indore City Bus system, Ahmedabad’s BRT, Janmarg, and Rajkot’s first dial-a-rickshaw service, G-Auto. The latter generated great amount of enthusiasm amongst the participants as they felt that, though much overlooked, paratransit modes could be a key relief to the mobility woes of small cities, especially in the semi-hilly cities of Uttarakhand, where roads are not wide enough to allow for buses. A presentation was also made on the current process of making Comprehensive Mobility Plans (CMPs) and how that could be improved.
To the faculty’s delight, all the presentations made resulted in a tremendous flow and exchange of ideas, and towards the end of the training, city officials came up with 5-point agendas on how to address the urban mobility challenges in cities without much intervention from the Centre and with limited budgetary resources. Measures like regulating and pricing parking of vehicles in the city, improving the traffic circulation plan in the city, stricter enforcement of rules and bye-laws and staggering school and work timings came up as the immediate/short term solutions that cities like Dehradun and Haridwar could consider. Reforms in public transport and paratransit, revising planning approaches, creating pedestrian friendly road furniture and spreading education and awareness on sustainable transport at various levels in the society, were some of the actions slated for the mid and long term.
The training course was very well received by the participants and they felt that such capacity building efforts must happen more frequently.