Growing Population and Urbanization Resulting in Sprawling Urban Cities, …
India will be home to over 600 million urban dwellers by 2030, with most of the growth coming not from the core cities, but the peripheries. With growing urbanization, cities are losing green cover as they continue to expand beyond the city borders.
The National Capital Region (NCR) is a clear example of this scenario, which continues to grow beyond the NCT-Delhi region to neighboring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. However, despite this growth the cities expansion have not been able to keep pace with the urban population which has grown at a much faster pace.
Urban Expansion and Population Growth in NCR (1981 – 2011)
Source: Census Data; NASSCOM Research
From an urban mobility perspective, this means longer travel distances and high density of commuters and freight deliveries. This in turn has resulted in an ever increasing number of private vehicles on the road, in absence of an efficient public transport system and logistics network management.
Overall, this unprecedented demand for urban mobility is leading to problems such as traffic congestion, pollution, parking challenges and freight inefficiencies.
… Increasing pressure on cities’ infrastructure and demand for fossil fuels, …
Increasing demand for urban mobility which is primarily met by private vehicles has put considerable pressure on country’s infrastructure, specifically the roads, which transport two-thirds of all freight and 90% of the passenger traffic.
Additionally, the road network in the country has not been able to keep pace with the exceptional growth in private vehicles, both in terms of quantity as well as quality. Only 5% of the road network in the country is either state or national highway, which means 95% of the roads are either secondary or tertiary roads where quality of roads is a key concern.
Increase in Roads and Private Vehicles in India (2000 – 2016)
Source: MORTH; NASSCOM Research
As a result, traffic congestion, poor road safety and parking challenges has become synonymous with urbanization in India.
Another challenge which comes with increasing number of private vehicles on the road is – country’s high dependence on fossil fuels, which continues to witness an uptrend with the country registering a multi-year high share of oil import at 84% of the total demand during the year 2018-19.
Historically, congestion has been resolved by putting more roads and parking spaces but this solution seems to have hit peak effectiveness, as more roads ultimately results in more congestion and increased fuel bills. Thus, this problem needs more sustainable solutions driven by technology, such as efficient parking management applications, and restraining private vehicle usage by scaling up seamless and efficient public and shared mobility alternatives.
…In turn resulting in high levels of pollution, the major cause behind climate change
Air pollution is a major driver behind climate change, the biggest threat countries across the globe are facing. Globally, cities are major contributors to air pollution as they consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions despite accounting for less than 2% of the Earth’s surface.
Further, traffic remains the highest contributor of urban outdoor air pollution accounting for 25% of the total fine particulate matter (PM2.5) generated globally. Notably, in case of India the share of traffic in outdoor air pollution is even higher at 37% (which is also the highest share across regions globally).
Rising pollution has become a health hazard globally with 9 out of 10 people breathing polluted air. Moreover, pollution is expected to account for seven million deaths and cost nearly USD225 billion (~INR1,597,500 crores) to world economy in 2019.
The air pollution situation in India is alarming considering it is home to seven of the world’s top 10 polluted cities.
- India’s urban pollution as measured by PM2.5 level is already about 40% above the safe limits across major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune Etc.
This highlights a dire need of transforming urban mobility with a shift towards cleaner technologies, where India is a laggard
Globally countries are solving for their need for cleaner mobility through electric vehicles (EV) which has witnessed significant increase over the last few years. Notably, global EV deployment resulted in a net savings of more than 50% emissions in 2018.
However, India has a lot of ground to cover as far as electric vehicles are concerned. Though, there is some uptake on electric two wheelers and three wheelers, India lags significantly on cars, buses and freight vehicles. Commendably, the government authorities have set targets of 30% EV sales across all modes; and 100% EV share of purchases in urban buses by 2030, there is a need for strong policy support and, adequate & fast charging infrastructure to push uptake of electric vehicles.
Integrated data systems which forms the basis of an efficient urban mobility system is an immediate requirement which needs to be fulfilled
A key requirement for an efficient urban mobility system is standardized data, which can act as the basis for efficient city planning as well as for integrated mobility solutions. This highlights a need for increased focus on mobility as a service (MaaS), which includes usage of technology solutions for improving efficiency of transportation.
Though, implementing MaaS at full scale has been a difficult task in India, considering it faces significant challenges both in terms of data collection and data sharing; some recent initiatives towards opening of data, and the integrated Kochi metro system are steps just in the right direction.
Globally, multi-modal integrated systems forms the basis of all successful urban transport systems, and India needs to implement similar systems to address urban mobility challenges.
Overall, a successful mobility system needs a shift towards mobility as a service, which would require a strong, collaborative effort across stakeholders.
NASSCOM proposes a five pronged action plan that will bring together key stakeholders such as government, automotive and technology industries and NASSCOM together to drive sustainable, seamless and safe mobility in urban India.
- Focus on Comprehensive Urban Planning– Establish centralized mobility authority at state/city level which can take a planned and integrated approach to urban mobility development
- Driving Public Transport and Shared Mobility Adoption– Support for higher adoption of public transport and shared mobility options while regulating private transport
- Push for Clean Mobility– Create conducive ecosystem for large scale adoption of electric mobility for people and goods
- Create and Implement Integrated Mobility Systems– Implement integrated digital mobility platform at a country level
- Support for New Technology and Innovation in Mobility– Establish an environment that continuously scales up technology and business model innovation in mobility through experimentation and partnerships