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What the "public" doesn't get about "transport" ?

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Public Transport

What the public doesn't get about transport is similar to what the public doesn't get about "climate change" or many other problems which seems to be drowning us with  their increasing complexity. The list on those who don't understand climate change, as a recent Time article points out are graduates at MIT and Bill Gates. Did you think you were smarter?

Most of the responses are to cover-up the real problems with mega projects - Metro Rail, BRTS, Multi-layer Road Networks, Peripheral Ring Roads; Geo-engineering with huge windmills, silver seeding for clouds, or dispersing millions of tonnes of sulphur to combat global warming, Super Green Revolution, Mega dams, Mega Coal-fired projects, Minining for energy from the moon, one day or Saturn, another day.  Certainly, the solutions offered are nuanced, and crtainly have some merit, but they all point out to in the same direction:

Our desperate and often futile attempts to find the cat to get rid of the mice and dogs to chase away the cats and more of the same.

What the public doesn't get is that as we while away lots of time and resources on these mega-projects, which only end up complicating the problem, the real solution lies in networking together a large together of small things in different, systemic ways.

MetroLITE is a path-breaking solution to our transport-land use problems, based on this approach, that is intimately focused on commuter needs and which is flexible and adaptible to changes in the regions’ commuting profile.

It is based on an in-depth study over past 8 years of our usage and attitude for transport and land-use, energy and environmental conditions and a comprehensive study of enabling technologies in IT, navigation and communication. It takes the best of the present public and private transport options and creates a much better alternative, with a good number of choices to which users can subscribe to depending on their needs and affordability, and convenience of use and pay like their phone, electricity or other utility services.

In this system, users have a wider choice of the travel experience that they co-create and customize to personal preferences. They avail of vastly superior travel experience at a given price point in this model than at present. In a wholesome approach to our needs of a livable society, users can choose to walk, cycle comfortable distances or use a light, non-polluting, low-speed, silent mode that are friendly to walkers and cyclists and is safeguarded from any severance, air pollution and noise that can occur from higher speed motorized traffic. Fast moving motor vehicles, on the other hand run uninterrupted on Right-of-Way corridors of slow moving traffic and move much faster than at present with a combination of innovative traffic control measures and in-vehicle navigation sensors in the new system.

MetroLITE as BRTS++

MetroLITE system is an advanced and yet, more practical and appropriate form of a Bus Rapid Transit System, unlike the manner in which it is being bulldozed under the JNNURM guidelines. Incidentally, in a conference organised by Union Urban Development Ministry in 2007, Prof. Klaus Banse who has worked extensively on the Bogota BRTS, advised against “carbon copying” the Bogota model. He pointed out to the need for demand-responsive solutions that address specific context, needs and peculiarities of individual cities. I was a co-speaker at this session, where I presented on the MetroLITE model.

Some of the key areas in which MetroLITE offers greater benefits for users and is more practical and appropriate are:

1.      Instead of demarcating specific stretches as bus corridors as for BRTS, MetroLITE creates a seamless region-wide grid of Right-Of-Way arterial roads. This grid has grade separation – well-designed road-over bridges/underpasses for pedestrians and cyclists - at appropriate locations as well as fencing to prevent trespassing throughout the grid.

2.      MetroLITE selects from the available inventory of fast moving vehicles in the region of various capacities, before allowing fresh stock. It offers options for both public and private vehicle owners to enrol with the system and use the vehicles and high occupancy. Vehicles which do not enrol for the MetroLITE system pay Infrastructure Access Charge (such as a daily license of Rs. 300- Rs.500) for accessing MetroLITE infrastructure.  BRTS as in various cities in India uses fresh stock of vehicles.

3.      At the same time, to provide door-to-door seamless connectivity, MetroLITE uses a fleet of Feeder and Short Trip Vehicles – light, non-polluting, low speed and silent - for the inner roads and streets. Heavier, motorised vehicles are not permitted on these roads except for emergency vehicles, or for other vehicles in late night hours.

4.      In the back-end, MetroLITE provides well-publicised and high accessibility interfaces for information, transactions and other help – phone, website, attendant or self-service kiosks at public locations that can be used by all users in the region. It can offers choices of transit smart cards, paper tickets and mobile-payments, as appropriate.

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