Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Push for More Public Transport in India

This past week, a news report by the Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi, India, on June 22nd, 2009, presented a case for further taxation and new reforms to promote public transport in the growing cities (in size and pollution).

Says Narain: “In view of these environment and economic concerns, urgent steps are needed to rationalise taxation policy to remove incentives for diesel cars. The option we propose is to increase the Central excise duty on small diesel cars to 24 per cent and on bigger diesel cars to 32 per cent. This will provide an important disincentive, and give the right signals to city governments to increase taxes on diesel vehicles.”

An article in the Down to Earth magazine, discusses the affordability of the buses in India and an example caught my eye, "London authorities are charged by bus operators for congestion—if the bus cannot complete its journey in time because of traffic on the road, it is London that pays, and charges road users for it. The bottom-line is somebody will have to pay."

This is an interesting strategy to bring balance between the operators and the enforcement (traffic management/police) agencies. However, the implementation in the Indian cities, with no regards for traffic rules and poor governance at the enforcement, will be challenging.

The question raised in the article on "
how to cut down on the capital costs of the public transport", one by not buying modern low-floor buses and replenishing the fleets with the regular buses, which will not require all the new infrastructure needs".

The question of BRT in India is never far from the news. See a review of the new BRT system in Ahmedabad by the CAI-Asia Center. It will be interesting to see the developments and the implementation progress in the coming months, given the history of BRT system has been meagre to none in Pune and Delhi.

Elisabeth Rosenthal in the New York Times on July 9th, 2009, makes a candid case for BRT systems based on the Bogota case study (video link) and how promoting the bus culture will help the climate fight. However, the article focuses more on the possibilities of BRT in the developing countries, and the less pressure on the developed countries, where the share of the GHGs from the transport sector is the highest.

Non-motorized transport still rules when it comes to pollution friendly and climate friendly measures, but the review of the walkbility in Delhi is BAD.

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