Public transport remains central to air pollution and traffic congestion abatement, climate change mitigation and health risk management in urban areas. The success of public transport depends on reliability, convenience and accessibility, but it is affordability, social inclusion, and financial sustainability that can make it a game changer, aiding it in keeping up with the needs of expansion and modernization.
Today, this issue of affordability vs financial sustainability concerns all public transport systems in India—bus- and rail-based. Systemic responses have varied from shock fare hikes to choosing political exigencies over financial health. Attaining the right balance remains tricky business.
What, if at all, is the way out? This study by CSE diagnoses this problem by looking at a wide range of public transport agencies in India as well as across the world, and offers a possible direction for cities in India looking to modernize and scale up their public transport systems whilst ensuring affordability of the services.