‘Focus on pedestrians, interconnectivity to improve Delhi transport’

October 7th, 2008 - 2:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) Even as the national capital is changing its face for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, planners and experts here have expressed concern about flawed planning and delay in implementing an interconnected transport system.One of the main flaws in the capital’s road plan, according to experts at a conference here on the “Challenges and Possibilities in Mega Cities”, is that it ignored pedestrians.

“We can’t ape Western models of planning that essentially focus on vehicular traffic. Here, pedestrians and their mobility is most important,” said P.K. Nanda, former director of the Central Road Research Institute, who was part of a panel to discuss road transportation and parking.

He pointed out that on several occasions planners had lacked sensitivity towards pedestrians.

“After flyovers like the one at Okhla (in south Delhi) and expressways like on NH8 are constructed … when road accidents reflect alarming fatality figures … only then meek efforts of constructing foot overbridges are carried out - that too with no assessment as to whether mortality has reduced,” Nanda said Monday.

“If there are timely surveys done reflecting that infrastructure was benefiting public and reducing mortality, then funding can also be easily sanctioned,” he added.

The two-day conference that ends later Tuesday has brought together mayors of seven cities including Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, Jalandhar, Dehradun, Amritsar and Delhi along with planners and engineers from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

While the Delhi Metro has eased traffic problems to quite an extent, panellists felt that it was important to implement interconnectivity of public transport as soon as possible.

“The need now is to supplement the Metro with other modes of public transport. Many projects in Delhi are under process like the monorail - but a city’s bus transport system is the most important,” said S.K. Lohia, director in the ministry of urban development.

Asserting that well-connected transportation was the need of the hour, he said this could be achieved only “when the public accepts the modes of transport with no negative impressions - like of overflowing buses where commuters hang on for dear life”.

“Sixty percent of the GDP in 2006 came from cities - it is estimated that cities will contribute 73 percent by 2020. But no mobility means no productivity. If people are stuck in jams or have to travel three hours a day - when will they work?” Lohia told IANS.

Lohia added that it would have been better if the Metro had arrived in the city earlier.

“The Metro has already reached the city late in comparison to other cities like London and Paris where it reached in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The population was less in comparison to the current situation in Delhi,” he said.

P.K. Sikdar, technical director of Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt Ltd (ICT), cited the lack of interconnectivity as one of the reasons for the failing multi-modal transport.

“While the Metro is doing well at an isolated level, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has also started feeder bus services. Why cannot the Delhi Transport Corporation also run buses to metro stations,” he asked.

“Each mode serves another - be it cycle rickshaws, autos, private cars or buses - transport modes need to be amalgamated - more delay is a disaster in the making,” he quipped.

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