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Traffic & Transportation Policies and Strategies

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TrafficPublic Transport

Executive Summary of a Wilbur Smith study on Traffic & Transportation Policies and Strategies in Urban Areas in India is now available on the website of Ministry of Urban Development. The 20 page summary document makes a good reading.

Praja members would love the language, especially the terms like "slow moving vehicle index", "on-street parking interference index". Essentially, they have quantified stuff like "entropy", "edge friction", "turbulence" and "viscosity" that we often borrow and use here at Praja from thermo and fluid dynamics. Some equations for example:

  • Parking Interference Index = 1/ (w1 x % of major road length used for on-street parking + w2 x onstreet parking demand on major roads. Fair enough, though I worry if its should be road length or road width or road area used for on-street parking. How to measure on-street parking demand too is tricky. that itself is a function of availability of public transport.
  • Slow Moving Vehicle Index = [(W1 x Availability of cycle tracks)+ (w2 x SMV share in trips)]. Fair enough again, only one point though. They have added cycles and slow moving vehicles (SMV) here, I would add a weight for pedestrians as well. That would be a function of availability of pedestrian walkway width available along major roads. They already have a walkability index
  • Walkability Index: is calculated as [(W1 x Availability of footpath)+ (w2 x Pedestrian Facility rating)]. Okay.

There is a mother of all "Congestion Index" as well which is defined as: Mobility Index = 1- (A/M), where:

  • A - Average journey speed observed on major corridors of the city during peak hours and
  • M - Desirable Average journey speed on major road networks of a city during peak hour, which is assumed as 30 KMPH.

That's it - 30 kmph?? I do Whitefield to J P Nagar (25 km) in 60 minutes even today. Looks like I should be happy with that :)

There also is a "City Bus supply index", defined as City Bus Fleet per 1 lakh population. Refer our discussions here on how Bangalore has good number of buses, yet low bus usage, arguably because of poorly done routing. Shouldn't routing plan or spread supply a weight to this city Bus Supply Index. No surprises that Bangalore (39) is third after Delhi (43), Madurai (42) in public transport availability), where as Mumbai (16) comes much below. I am not criticizing this index, only trying to understand the purpose of it. Perhaps it is to show that City Bus count itself has no correlation to quality or usage of public transport.

There is some other nice stuff in there. Like:

  • The equation for Trip length takes "shape factor" into account. Shape factor is ration of minimum spread to maximum spread. Mumbai would be low, and Bangalore high on this factor.
  • The equation for Public Transport percentage Slum population as a proxy variable to account for low income households. So true. If a city has 20% population in low income bracket, and public transport usage is 20%, that could tell you that income is only factor driving the usage, and quality offered may not be good.

Anyway, read and digest what is available to us (executive summary), and let us discuss this in context of what we have been discussing here for past few months. Recommended reading for all traffic geeks.

Comments

tsubba's picture

thanks...

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alrighty. thanks.
silkboard's picture

too geeky but important

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Just re-read what I wrote over my afternoon coffee. Too geeky isn't it. Man, lets do something like this as the inaugural post on our almost-ready gyan/infopedia section.

Lets start with a list of key variables playing on the roads (entropy, edge friction, volume (population - number of particles), and pressure (enforcement, fear) etc

  • Road width
    • wider, more disorderliness. Narrower, better organized
    • Weight - medium
  • Markings and paintings
    • Heavy the signage, better order
    • Weight - low, but a function of enforcement
  • on-street parking - long duration (residences)
    • More parking, better the order. Cars one behind another is a sign of order, isn't it.
    • Weight - ?
  • on-street parking - short duration (darshinis, ATMs etc)
    • Order supplied by lined up cars and narrower road gets over compensated by constantly parking and de-parking cars.
    • weight - ?
  • Consistency of road width
    • More consistent, better the order. Narrow to wide, or wide to narrow, both scenarios lead to disorder.
    • Weight - High
  • Range of speed (diff b/w slowest moving and fastest moving vehicle).Giving a new color to the Wilbur Smith's SMV (slow moving vehicles) index
    • Higher the range, more the disorder
    • Weight - high
  • Presence of Hard median
  • Average distance between cuts in the median
  • Percentage of law breakers (need to break this further into - percentage of guys over that over-speed, percentage that overtakes from left, percentage that parks illegally)

List is big, and its not that easy to draw one because things are so interconnected. The challenge is to see their effects in isolation (via some intuitive thinking and extrapolation).

Did you ask whats the objective of all this? 1) To find out what variable should get how much investment. So, influence policy decisions. 2) Which one of these is higher priority and higher impact. Its not possible to one shot invest in all, thats a bit impractical given our structure.

tsubba's picture

not geeky

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thanks a lot man. put them on a tree. i think dependency tree should tell us what is fundamental and what is symptomatic. you will also see all are related. then the issue is going top-down or bottom-up the tree. at the very least this will us to think about these issues in clear terms. again thanks.
tsubba's picture

ids city connect

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city connect type of issue is two sided. liability and accountability. that is why organized design and decision making. role of citizens is in evaluation - as a watchdog - and cannot be generation of policy/design etc... nevertheless, given the reality of our cities citizens have to intervene. there have been some discussions on these types of issues previously. ORR, BTM layout, Indira nagar, Hebbal etc etc... some of which got featured in Deccan Herald. usually impossible to design each part of the network in isolation. realistic designs require data, taste and experience. but it need not be intractable. somethings have to be fixed. classify city road types. since lane systems are non existent. 6m, 9m, 12m and so on. estimate realistic handling capacity of each road type - ideal case, true averages that is the basis. what i have observed in some of the organized towns is that there are certain basic inviolable rules. the cost of a project is the cost of adhering to these rules and the benefit is order and controllability. once these basic rules are fixed then designs are pretty much fixed atleast at the macro levels. the only decision making is in assessing local conditions and network connectivity and picking from a pool of possible solutions. to repeat, once a particular solution is picked, then what needs to be done is pretty much known as design of that solution is mostly fixed. this also means that since the solution bank is fixed, the city is retrofitted around the possible solutions. (i know you know all these things, just putting out my understanding out.)
idontspam's picture

Will they seek outside help and implement it?

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Ramesh Ramanathan of Jaanagrahaa one put up a 3 step test for local politicians.. I think it needs to apply to city planning authorities as well.. It goes something like this.. (he said it a lot better, I will try to find the link)

1) Does he admit there is a problem?

2) Does he admit not having a solution himself?

3) Is he willing to accept outside help to fix things.

I believe city planners know there is a problem and they dont have all the solutions. What does it take for them to accept suggestions evaluate and implement them. I am willing to track the Ramaiah junction reengineering suggestion. I am sure it will not see the light of the day.

What does it take?

tsubba's picture

design of tests

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design tests that help alleviate problems. say if we do the test. if 99 of 100 fail the ramanathan test. then what? test governance and systems instead. given who people are, do you have systems that ensure that people in charge and paid for ... 1) admit there is a problem. 2) admit they dont have a solution themselves. 3) willing to accept outside help to fix things. i.e., do the ramanathan tests on systems not on people. that would be longer lasting solution.
idontspam's picture

The test link...

tsubba's picture

my understanding

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my understanding is that people at helm know. they atleast know where to look for solutions. to get a peek at how much they know, check designs of PRR. the issue is they dont have the public trust to back them up or the accountability to keep them monitored. their own personal fortunes are neither tied to solutions or performance. some wierd un-measurable variables they are tied to. as bialterminal or was it sandeep who said align personal good with personal good and see the magic happen.
asj's picture

interesting but strange

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How accurate are these figures when compared with ground realities? Look at Pune - the reality is that public transport is pathetic and the figures suggest that Pune has the best transport facilities - accessibility 3.15, % trips accessible in 15 minutes 54.3. And they seem to manage this with a supply index of 16.43? The graph below the table from where these figures come from also suggests Pune to fare better than Chennai, Mumbai and other cities with better reputation, just based on this, I am unable to accept the study and its overall validity.

Results are always flawed when lot of proxy outcomes are used - this study is an example of that. Also figures without confidence intervals are useless (most transporty journal articles report these).

Further, access and accessibility are two different things. This study uses the latter as a measure not the former.

  • Access. The capacity to enter and exit a transport system. Effectively it means how soon will one get a bus?
  • Accessibility. The measure of the capacity of a location to be reached by, or to reach different locations. In this study - its how quick one gets to a bus stop.
  • Given that Pune has relatively short but disproportionately high number of routes getting to a bus stop within 15 minutes gives a brilliant score. But in reality the average frequency of a bus in Pune across all routes is - one bus per 57 minutes!! 

    If PMT were to follow these figures, one conclusion they may draw is that Pune needs more buses - well! We know that does not help in any way based on the situation in Bangalore.

    As Fritz Perls put it 'the whole is more than the sum of its parts'. Without a wider perspective on things, conclusions based on small peice meal stats can be very misleading.

    ASJ

    murali772's picture

    the Kochi factor

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    I too am not quite sure about ther veracity of many aspects of the study. Though somewhere it has stated that Kochi is causing a distortion in its summarisation, admitting, in a way, that there is something peculiar about the bus transport services in that city, the other factors listed do not seem to project it correctly.

    I am very familiar with Kochi bus services, having used it extensively myself, even with having any number of cars at my disposal whenever I visit the place (I was born in Kochi, and lived there upto the age of 11, and visit the city often since I have many relatives there). For a city that keeps opting for Marxist rule almost continuously, it has a near total privately operated public bus service. It is cheap, efficient and clean. But, the downside, as Sreevatsa had pointed out earlier, is its notorious record, vis-a-vis safety, which can possibly be matched only by Delhi's blue-line. The reason is also the same - the government's licence-permit regime. If liberated from the government's strangle-hold, the city could indeed provide a model for the rest of the country.

    Muralidhar Rao

    Muralidhar Rao
    murali772's picture

    a great opportunity

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    An interesting find of the study is the colossal investment that needs to go into public transport services. Like I have stated earlier, it is an opportunity that no industry leader can afford to ignore - Devesh sahab - kyaa kar rahein hein aap???

    Muralidhar Rao

    Muralidhar Rao
    swamy's picture

    Today's TOI has picked this

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    Good thing sir. Times of India has picked this thing today. Frontpage, top right corner. You are making them put complicated things like this on frontpage
    silkboard's picture

    Its there! the full report is available now!

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    Rejoice Tarle!! The full report is there on MoUD website now. Putting it on my phone as we speak. See http://urbanindia.nic.in/... and download before it disappears from there. 149 pages, so be warned.

    No, I didn't pull any strings, I don't have any. Perhaps some helpful chap at MoUD listened to us :)

    Hey Swamy - TOI didn't pick it from here. the right statement would be - we both picked up the paper from MoUD. I just did it a few days sooner. But see how different the headlines are. "Bangalore is worst in bla bla .." for TOI. And "bla bla policies and strategies" here at Praja. Geeks will be geeks, though we have to learn the art of headline making to expand our reach :)

    silkboard's picture

    BTW, don't forget the annexure

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    Oh, forgot to add. The 3.5 MB heavy and 150 pages annexure has the meat of it - I mean the data which forms the basis for their studies and calculations - so don't forget to download it as well. Happy reading.
    tsubba's picture

    got it!

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    thanks man. got it.
    idontspam's picture

    Intresting reading today

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    I dont know if y'all missed this... made for interesting reading today.
    asj's picture

    Figures - some wrong, some probably correct

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    I have plucked out Pune V Mumbai separately.
    Some facts are grossly wrong in this report - Mumbai's population density is one such figure.
    But look at on-street parking in Pune 53% roads have it Vs just 16 in Mumbai, combine that with the fact that 47% of Pune is on 2wheels and car against 15 % in Mumbai where a healthy 45% use buses (trains some how don't figure in this report) as against 12% of Pune.
    Yet, Pune scores better overall!!!
    Anyway, all this glorious on-street parking will not be there if Pune has footpaths (currently well over 40% roads have no footpaths in Pune), once we have those, the space crunch begins, and people start considering other alternatives.
    Finally, only 4 roads in Pune are 6 lane roads (Mumbai has 17 of them) - strange given that 120km of BRT routes have been identified in Pune.
    ASJ
    silkboard's picture

    read the full report?

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    ids, asj, tarle, murali - I haven't managed to go through the full report yet. Too long, needs some more time to finish.

    If anyone has goe or even browsed through the report and annexure, will be nice to start a separate post just to discuss its contents.

    asj's picture

    Will try

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    SB,

    Will try. Its dense, especially the weights and the fact that some basline data is inaccurate.

    ASJ

    silkboard's picture

    We had saved the files

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    Either Naveen or myself or both had saved all the files. I will look them up tonight, and upload on scribd.

    silkboard's picture

    full report here now

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    Its on MoUD website, here. big PDF (149 pages). Have saved this one too. Look for "Transport Indices", on page "ix"

    http://www.urbanindia.nic...

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