EMBARQ India's Sixth Talking Transit Workshop Focused on Integrated Transport Services
EMBARQ India organised its 6th Talking Transit workshop on 10th and 11th November in Bhopal on ‘Integrated Transport Services’. This workshop series, an initiative of the Bus Karo programme, is supported by a grant from the FedEx Corporation. Over 80 people from 16 cities attended the two-day workshop, organised in partnership with Bhopal City Link Limited. The sessions were was focused on the strategies adopted for planning, design and operation of integrated transport services, using the city of Bhopal as a case study.
The opening plenary was chaired by OP Agarwal, IAS, Director General, Institute of Urban Transport. In his address, Agarwal stated, “If cities are the engines of economic growth, the transport system is the wheel of that engine” he said. “Unless the transport system is effective, the city will not be effective. People will not reach their work places, children will not reach schools, ambulances will not reach hospitals, and goods will not be delivered to their final destination”. He also stressed on the importance of public transport, reiterating that it occupies space more optimally, and uses less energy. However, integration between various modes and land use is key in making the entire transport system of a city effective. Where people live and where people work is dependent on the transport system.
The following sessions explored various aspects of integration, including introducing smartcard systems that could be used on various transit modes across the city, and the formalization of informal transport systems into the larger city network. Sujith Nair, Senior Manager, Ernst & Young, Ravi Jain, Director, PayCraft Solutions, Jaspal Singh, Partner, Valoriser Consultants, and Anupam Bagchi, Head - Product Card Business, Axis Bank spoke on the technology and policy changes required to make such smartcard systems a reality. Each spoke based on their work within the transport sector, stressing that the main focus was to improve commuter experiences. Akshay Mani and Umang Jain from EMBARQ India spoke on informal transport, why these services exist in certain cities, and how the issues can be addressed.
Some of the key points presented were the lack of capacity in the existing formalized services. However, this also leads to a lack of integration, as it often tends to compete with rather than complement formalized transport. This was followed by a group activity on formalising informal transport where each group had to come up with a comprehensive plan for BCLL towards incorporating the existing informal ‘Tata Magic’ share taxi system into the formal transport network of the city. The groups were given a set of questions to think through the various strategies possible, and had to present their plans to the entire audience. Chandramouli Shukla, CEO, BCLL, and Devendra Tiwari, Additional CEO, BCLL critiqued each group’s presentation and also shared their views and experiences in tackling the same issue. The first day ended with a field visit on the city’s BRT system, MyBus.
Day two began with a presentation by Amit Bhatt, Strategy Head – Urban Transport, EMBARQ India, on the Government’s draft Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014, and what it would mean for State Transport Undertakings. Prasanna Patwardhan, MD, Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions, spoke on the issue from his perspective as well. The final session, Women’s Safety in Transport, was chaired by the Deputy Inspector of Police, Bhopal who spoke of the progress made by his city in making public spaces safer for women. Sanya Seth from Jagori presented on her work around women’s safety in transport and public spaces giving examples from the work with the Delhi Transport Corporation.
Sonal Shah, Principal Associate – Urban Development and Accessibility, EMBARQ India spoke on the effective approach towards improving women’s security in public transport, stressing that it should include key elements like safety on transport and at terminals, accessibility to mass transit, affordability of transport options for various trips, clear and coherent information, and employment within transit agencies to improve the gender ratio. The entire workshop was well received by participants and several agencies expressed an interest in further engagement with EMBARQ India and partners. Through the Talking Transit workshop series, and the Bus Karo initiative, EMBARQ India aims to facilitate a peer-to-peer learning network that encourages shared learning between city bus agencies from around the country.