With the exponential growth of private vehicles making commuting a nightmare in most Indian cities, experts have come together to form the Transport Research Group of India (TRG) and draw a roadmap to tackle the ever- increasing problem.
The experts, working in prestigious institutions such as the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc), say better transportation in India is necessary also for increased productivity and to compete effectively in the international market.
‘Adequacy and reliability of transport infrastructure and services are important factors that contribute towards the ability of the country to compete in the field of international trade and attract foreign direct investment,’ Ashish Verma of IISc, one of the initiators of the group, told IANS.
Verma, an assistant professor in civil engineering and associate faculty at the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation, and Urban Planning (CiSTUP) of IISc, has been elected president of the TRG, which held its first conference in Bangalore early this month.
Besides Verma, the TRG has a 15-member executive board that includes academicians from Indian Institutes of Technology in Kanpur, Kharagpur, Delhi, Chennai, Guwahati, Roorkee, Powai and the Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow among others.
According to Verma, while the government spends a huge amount on transportation infrastructure, ‘there is no appropriate platform in India for professionals across all modes of transport to come together and interchange ideas and knowledge’.
There was also ‘no regular avenue in India at present to collate and publish the research literature across all transportation sectors and modes for better inter-modal understanding’, he said.
The TRG will try to bridge this gap by providing such a platform/avenue in India and become a partner in the overall growth of the country, he added.
The idea to form the TRG came up in 2008 and it got formally registered as a society in Karnataka in May this year.
The TRG held its first conference in Bangalore for three days from Dec 7 in partnership with the US-based Transportation Research Board of National Academies, Transport and Development Institute of American Society of Civil Engineers, and Association of Transport Professionals of Indian Origin.
The TRG plans to hold conferences every two years on various aspects of transportation, including safety, efficiency, economic and social development, local and global environmental impact, energy, land use, equity and access for the widest range of travellers with special needs.
The conclusions of these conferences will be sent to the central and state governments to help them formulate better programmes to improve the transport scene.
The conference also devoted some time to the maddening traffic in Bangalore, the nation’s tech hub that has nearly four million vehicles for its 8.5 million population.
Bangalore and many other Indian cities are now facing a situation that the US did way back in early 1950s and Europe in late 1960s when their vehicle ownership reached a saturation level of one car per household, Verma said.
‘We cannot afford to reach anywhere near the stage of one car per household, as that situation will possibly lead us to zero mobility and we simply cannot afford to continue providing road infrastructure till reaching this stage,’ he said.
To overcome the problem, Verma suggested a ‘switchover from road infrastructure- centric solutions to more demand and space management solutions’.
He said one of the options would be to make ownership and use of private vehicles ‘less attractive by using a combination of policy measures like more taxation on vehicle purchase, congestion charging, parking restraint policies, differential parking charges, restrictions during peak period travel, full pedestrianization in CBD (central business districts) areas’.