Thursday, October 9, 2008

A summary of the National Urban Transport Policy ( April 2006). People to be Centre Stage!!

A summary of The National Urban Transport Policy (April, 2006)


· The cost of travel, especially for the poor, has increased considerably. This is largely because the use of cheaper non-motorised modes like cycling and walking has become extremely risky, since these modes have to share the same right of way with motorized modes. Further, with population growth, cities have tended to sprawl and increased travel distances have made non-motorized modes impossible to use. This has made access to livelihoods, particularly for the poor, far more difficult.

· Travel in the city has become more risky with accident rates having gone up from 1.6 lakh in 1981 to over 3.9 lakh in 2001. The number of persons killed in road accidents has also gone up from 28,400 to over 80,000 during the same period. This again has tended to impact the poor more severely as many of those killed or injured tend to be cyclists, pedestrians or pavement dwellers.

· Rapid motor vehicle growth has also caused severe air pollution, adversely affecting the health of the people and their quality of life.

Unless the above problems are remedied, poor mobility can become a major dampener to economic growth and cause the quality of life to deteriorate. A policy is, therefore, needed on the approach to dealing with this rapidly growing problem as also offer a clear direction and a framework for future action.

Vision Statement:

To recognize that people occupy centre-stage in our cities and all plans would be for their common benefit and well being


· Bringing about a more equitable allocation of road space with people, rather than vehicles, as its main focus.
· Investing in transport systems that encourage greater use of public transport and non-motorized modes instead of personal motor vehicles

Equitable allocation of road space

At present, road space gets allocated to whichever vehicle occupies it first. The focus is, therefore, the vehicle and not people. The result is that a bus carrying 40 people is allocated only two and a half times the road space that is allocated to a car carrying only one or two persons. In this process, the lower income groups have, effectively, ended up paying, in terms of higher travel time and higher travel costs, for the disproportionate space allocated to personal vehicles. Users of non-motorized modes have tended to be squeezed out of the roads on account of serious threats to their safety. If the focus of the principles of road space allocation were to be the people, then much more space would need to be allocated to public transport systems than is allocated at present.

The Central Government would, therefore, encourage measures that allocate road space on a more equitable basis, with people as its focus. This can be achieved by reserving lanes and corridors exclusively for public transport and non-motorized modes of travel. Past experience has been that such reserved lanes are not respected by motorists and therefore lose meaning. In order to facilitate better enforcement of such lane discipline, suitable provisions would be introduced in the Motor Vehicles Act and other instrumentalities to enable stringent penalties for violation.

The Central Government would give priority to the construction of cycle tracks and pedestrian paths, under the National Urban Renewal Mission (NURM), to enhance safety and thereby enhance use of non-motorized modes.

What the Right to Walk Foundation would like to know is “Why is this Policy Document not implemented even after Two Years of publication”?The quality of life for the poor man is deteriorating by the day and yet there is no implementation plan from the Urban Transport authorities. What are the authorities waiting for?

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