ASRTU (Association of State Road Transport Undertakings) celebrated its 50-year anniversary last week and held a conference on public transport innovation in New Delhi to mark the occasion. ASRTU has 62 members, which collectively operate 150,000 buses and serve 70m passengers a day.
Shri Nitin Gadkari, Honourable Minister of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) inaugurated the event. UITP Secretary General, Alain Flausch, was in attendance as Chief Guest and chaired the session on the challenges faced by public transport in India and also made an address regarding the key that need to be taken to grow organised public transport in India.
India is struggling with the issues of air quality and traffic congestion, with the number of vehicles growing at a rapid pace. As of 31 March 2012, there were 159.5m registered motor vehicles in India, growing at CAGR of 10.5% in the last 10 years. As per estimates, there are now more than 200 million registered motor vehicles in 2015. The share of buses in total registered vehicles declined from 11.1% in 1951 to just 1% in 2012.
The speed of traffic is slowing down but the number of road accidents is actually increasing. In 2014, India reported 1,214 road accidents per day, of which 377 were fatal accidents. Sadly, 60% of these fatal accidents concern people aged 15-44.
The government is beginning to pay increasing attention to public transport compared to some years ago but there are still many things to fix before India shall see real progress. The Government of India (GoI) is committed to do more by launching the Smart Cities and AMRUT programmes.
In his address, Mr. Flausch expanded on some key areas that India should focus on in order to advance the public transport reform agenda:
1. Political will - No country or city can make progress in sustainable transport, if there is no champion for it. Public transport is the main ingredient for liveable cities. Political will requires setting goals along with a proper institutional framework.
2. Funding – Public transport used to be an engineering-dominated domain, but in the last ten years there have been lots of advancements and commuters have become key players. Today, marketing has a much greater role and agencies/authorities need to be creative in finding new taxes and new ways of putting money into the system.
3. Skill-building – There is a need to make public transport self-sustainable and attractive. There is need to build necessary skills and develop capabilities in cities in order to manage transport issues.
India has begun its journey to build sustainable transport across the county. There is still a long way to go.
Photographs of Secretary General Visit - Click here
Opening Address by Secretary General, UITP -