Accessing Mass Transit Easily
New Delhi | February 17, 2014 By Prerna Mehta
EMBARQ India hosted a workshop on Safe Access around Mass Transit in India held at Delhi on 10 February, 2014. About 30 professionals from organisations like Town and Country Planning Office(TCPO), National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Delhi Development Authority, New Policy Initiatives and International Cooperation Cell (NPIIC), Delhi Transport Corporation(DTC), Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), Urban Mass Transit Company Limited (UMTC), Institute of Urban Transport (IUT), Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), ARCOP Associates Private Limited (ARCOP), Samarthyam, Nation Centre for Accessible Environments attended the event.
The workshop opened with a welcome note by Prerna Mehta, Manager, Urban Development & Accessibility (UDA), EMBARQ India, who framed the context by highlighting the challenges to safe access to mass transit in India. This was followed by a presentation by Amit Bhatt, Strategy Head, Urban Transport, EMBARQ India elaborating the concerns due to sprawling urban development, increased motorization, environmental degradation, traffic congestion and road fatalities in Indian cities. He said, “10% of global deaths in India happen because of road traffic crashes out of which 75% people who die are pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore a lot of road safety issues that we focus on like seat belts and helmets only cater to 25% of population”. He also mentioned that while JNnURM conveyed a strong message of ‘moving people and not vehicles’ through their National Urban Transport Policy, 57% of their funds last year went in creating wider roads and flyovers.
A short activity session engaged the participants and helped draw out the barriers to universal use of public transport and exhibited the concern and sensitivity of the participants for the subject. Key concerns flagged by the participants were:
• Safety • Accessibility • Quality of service • Multi Modal integration
The second session opened with a presentation from guest speaker Ms. Anjalee Agarwal, Executive Director, Samarthyam on the need for providing universal access for all users, highlighting the fact that present infrastructure provisions do not cater to the needs to the differently abled. She emphasized the need of inclusive pedestrian environments which enhance equity and safety in our cities through various examples from across India. This was followed by a presentation on Indiranagar Safe Access Project in Bangalore by Himadri Das, Program Manager, UDA, EMBARQ India and V. Suryaprakash, Principal Associate, UDA and finally the Safe Access to Mass Transit-Case of MIDC Marol by Sonal Shah Principal Associate, UDA. Each of these presentations provided strategies and solutions to counter the issues flagged in the opening session. Sonal Shah said, “Safe accessibility to mass transit systems includes making pedestrians and cycling a priority, putting in parking management, providing seamless integration with feeder infrastructure and enhancing security & safety; simultaneously safe access also enhances the public realm of such neighbourhoods”.
The partakers raised concerns regarding inclusion of the universal accessibility aspect in the widely followed IRC guidelines and were informed of revisions to the IRC guidelines which facilitated universal accessibility. A few eminent experts like A.K. Jain, Ex-commissioner DDA complimented the well-knit presentations and Usha Raghupati from NIUA remarked on this being one of the best workshops attended by her. Overall feedback about the workshop was positive.