Bus based public transport systems are the mainstay of public transport in India. However, their development hasn’t kept pace with rapidly increasing travel needs and aspirations of users over the years leading increase in private vehicle usage and consequently increase in congestion, emissions and traffic crashes. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Government of India (GoI) recognised the need to improve public transport services and enhancing their usage in order to mitigate the negative impacts of the current pattern of growth.
Towards this objective, MoRTH entered into a Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) agreement with the World Bank Group to provide technical assistance on developing strategies to improve public transport across the country. The agreement will cover focussed state level engagement with Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to develop a long term public transport strategy for the states including Policy, Planning, Contracting, Technology and Data analytics initiatives. This will include both urban and inter-city services. The learnings from the state level engagement will be scaled up for National level implementation through engagements with MoRTH and the State Governments.
MoRTH has previously signed an MoU of cooperation with Transport for London (TfL), which is one of the global leaders in providing high-quality and efficient public transportation services. Through this agreement, World Bank will engage TfL to provide technical inputs to the states on the various topics identified under the project.
Speaking at the launch of the agreement on January 31, 2019 Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister of Transport highlighted the low level of service offered by the existing public transport systems and the need to improve their quality while also reducing their cost of operations. In this context he focussed on the need to look at alternative business models of public transport provision that TfL pioneered over the years. He also mentioned the need to transition to cleaner fuel technologies like electric buses and ethanol powered buses to meet air-quality improvement needs in cities. He also highlighted the futility of private vehicle based mobility development as the GoI has to invest INR 30,000 crores every three years just to add one additional lane of highways to meet the current growth rate of vehicles. Public transport offers a low-investment, safe and clean alternative which needs to be promoted. The launch event also saw representatives from MoRTH, TfL, World Bank Group, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra articulating their vision for the project and the future needs of public transport in India.