Easing traffic the Beijing way impractical for Mumbai says government
There I was, zipping down bustling Ahmedabad. The bus stopped at a station, designed so the doors of the bus and the station open simultaneously to let passengers out and in. People were walking to the station, buying tickets and waiting. A notice flashed when the next bus would arrive. Each bus has a GPS device that transmits its movements to a spiffy control room inside the city corporation. You know when the next bus will come. It will be on time.
Press Note: March 13, 2009 Cars may drive growth and aspirations, but they can never meet the commuting needs of urban India. Cars choke cities, harm public health and guzzle more oil. More than a half of our cities, especially the smaller ones, are getting smothered by critical levels of pollution and congestion.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (siam) says India produced over 10 million vehicles in 2006. The number of cars was more than one million. As the manufacture and sale of vehicles are important parameters of the national economy, this millionth-vehicle yardstick says the economy’s fundamentals are buoyant.
We never expected public transport to catch the political imagination in the car maniacal city of Delhi. So we were pleasantly surprised by the recent budget of the Delhi government. The transport sector has hogged the biggest pie of the total budgetary allocation – nearly one-fourth of the total plan outlay.
Kill. The ultimate scalpel operation as the final sign of life ebbs away. Let it die, rather than drag a colossal waste. We were probably expecting this to happen. Not just to this state-owned bus transit undertaking in India’s largest state -- Madhya Pradesh -- but to numerous other undertakings that have state governments as their bosses.
Last fortnight, when the world’s richest Indian Lakshmi Mittal visited Kolkata, the city of his youth, he was thrilled to see change. Mittal told the media that the biggest difference he saw was the many flyovers dotting the city skyline and “disciplined traffic”. This is great progress, he told journalists, who promptly reported that the tycoon had given the city’s road and traffic management a big thumbs up. I was also in Kolkata that day. But all I could see was lines and lines of traffic, belching black smoke, honking madly.
What does Barack Obama’s election as president of the us have to do with buses in India? A lot. Obama stands for what he calls ‘change’—in the way we think and do business. But the call will remain rhetoric unless we translate it into practical, everyday life, changes. To do that, we must bring changes in our business model and, most importantly, in what is essential and what needs to be invested in.
The world’s cheapest car, the Nano, rolls out in India this week. Manufacturer Tata Motors says it will change the way Indians drive, for the inauguration places the personal car within the reach of people who once could only dream of owning one. Indeed, the Nano has been marketed as an ‘aspiration’—the right of every Indian to a car. No quibble here. There is no question an affordable car is better than an expensive one; or that a small car, being more fuel efficient, is better than a big one.
New Delhi, June 22, 2009: “Tax our cars, Mr Finance Minister, not our buses”: this is – once again -- the message that Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has for Pranab Mukherjee, as he gets set to present the new government’s first Budget.