Today we have everything that can be considered as the citadels of transportation - seamless metro, adequate bus connectivity, almost smooth roads and smooth railroad fusion to ensure that Urban Transportation is heading in the right direction. But is it really?
On paper, everything seems ordered; one can take the metro to drop off at the nearest station to work and cover the last mile using the bus or any other means of Public Transportation. But the reality shows a different picture altogether. This is due to the fact that the transportation services are designed well but not executed in a people-friendly manner. Taking an example of Delhi NCR, the transportation services have not been scaled up considering the population of commuters. As a result, commutation during peak hours is a nightmare’s delight!
The population of Delhi NCR was roughly 42 million in 2016. By the time I finish writing this blog, at least 100 more have born and 1000 may have migrated completely to the NCR. As such, the residing population is on an exponential growth. However, to cater to their need, the services - primarily transportation - have remained standstill. We have witnessed a hike in the fare of transportation services to deter the casual ones, but, surprisingly, haven’t seen an upgradation in fleet services to serve the need for daily commuters. Those commuting to offices, schools, and colleges using the public transportation will curse the hike in fare but will submit to it, due to lack of any other feasible option.
And contrary to public transport, personal transport has risen exponentially to a threatening level leading to never-ending traffic jams, clogged roads and worsening air quality due to pollution. Due to the increase in purchasing power of the people, almost everyone can afford a car; which one would prefer to commute any day, over the dismal public transportation services on offer.
What have we done? Where have we been wrong? Can the state of Urban Transportation ever be improved or will be live under its umbrella of ordered chaos?
We, at Apollo & Dionysus, love accepting challenges and solving the complex problems by applying our out-of-box approach for every predicament. But this problem required more than just an out-of-box approach. It requires something radical, clubbed with some drastic counter-measures to arrest the worsening of the ecosystem.
Check on the purchasing power: No, we’re not asking the companies to cut-down on your pay cheque. Instead, we’re advocating against the process of buying a car by just paying a fraction of it from one's pocket, and relying almost completely on financial assistance provided by Banks and NFBCs. The leverage provided by these financial institutions may seem as a boon initially but is consuming the ecosystem from within like a Termite. The result is a menace! More cars on the road every day, more consumption of non-renewable natural resources, more pollution, more congestion on roads and the only thing getting less is - average time spent in productivity.
Revamping the Public Transport: To say that the current Public Transport framework is adequate enough to handle the commuting population, would be a fundamental lie. If we’re to move towards smart cities and futuristic approach, the entire definition of Public Transport has to change. In the present scenario, we have everything that constitutes a Public Transport Framework; viz. Rail, Road, Bus, Metro, and cabs. The only problem is, they’re neither organized nor efficient in dealing with the situation. The number of buses needs to increase to provide better last mile connectivity; the metro rail engine needs to be more powerful so as to pull number of coaches than they do; the frequency and quality of local trains need to improve; alternative methods of public transport needs to be advocated, like Podcabs, for improving connectivity within 1 square mile distance and many more. Moreover, ensuring that all these methods of transportation are deployed using Green/Clean energy is of utmost importance.
Improvement in Infrastructure: All the above points will be useless, unless the Government wakes up to realise, that an upgrade in infrastructure is the need of the hour. Our road quality, the width of the road, conditions of flyovers and encroachment on roads is far from being immaculate for any driver. The Government spends millions of our taxed income every year, but the quality is good just for a season. Across the globe, we can see examples of amazing technologies used and included in the construction of roads - like roads built with Silicon infused Solar Panel, roads with piezoelectric substances to generate electricity using movement of cars; but, our Government and Policy Makers are still stuck with the traditional concrete roads with scores of potholes per square meter!
Innovative initiatives: Apart from building infrastructure and applying stringent rules, it is high time that the Government should step up with some innovative initiatives to take things under control. There have been few initiatives by individuals to motivate people for using carpool facility. It did achieve some success as people knowing each other and working in the same organization are practicing the method. But in order to restrict the agents of chaos like traffic, pollution wastage of fuel etc. the carpool approach has to be accepted widely. This is where the Government needs to step in. We’re scared to travel with unknown people as we don’t know them and there is no one to authenticate their identity. But what if, the Government creates a portal wherein people can identify themselves (using Aadhaar Card, PAN card, Background checks etc) and once that’s done, they’re registered for the carpool service. This way, one registered/identified individual will be able to travel with another registered/identified individual with comparatively less fear in mind. Such initiatives and many more is the need of the hour if the current plight is to be addressed.
There is no sure shot way to end this vicious circle of chaos. But it is high time and drastic steps ought to be taken to take control of this situation. A small spark is all that is required to light the way!