Urban Transport Planning – Future Imperative

".....It is not so much the cost of doing, but rather the cost of not doing ....."

Urban Transport Planning
The 5 tier System Fairwood Concept design for GIFT

Sanjaya Varma
Sanjaya Varma, Advisor– Urban Transport Planning, Fairwood Green Transport
Urban Transport Planning (UTP) has a lot of solutions but many of them don't seem to work .....always! How else would you explain the situation of Chandigarh, a city designed by Le Corbusier maybe over 65 years ago, in physical existence for over 60 years and still relatively free from the evils of urban congestion and collapse of civil infrastructure? On the other hand we have other totally new cities like Noida which are about 35 years old, and already starting to reel under urban degradation despite having relatively broad well surfaced roads !

As Shakespeare said "the fault dear Brutus, lies in ourselves and not in our stars....." The fault in this case is not so simple; it is a combination of improper planning (possibly aggravated by socio-political & economic considerations) with considerably imperfect implem- entation of plans.

UTP is imperative for Urban Planning! It is estimated that by 2050, possibly 75% of people will be living in cities compared to 50% now. One estimate showed that India alone will need 500 - 800 new urban satellite cities by 2050!! Transit Oriented development (TOD) has been hailed as an effective solution to curb vehicular congestion. TOD tells one to keep the home, recreation and work place close together, conveniently connected through corridors of communication thereby reducing the need for people to use private transportation to fulfil basic needs of community living. But how effectively are we able to implement TOD in India? Where are the new cities in which TOD can be incorporated? Trying to do a retrofit of TOD in existing urban centres is a herculean task, but not one which cannot be achieved in significant proportions. It is not just about money or resources! Do we, as a nation, have the will to do and sustain it ?

Ancient India had UTP and this can be seen in the broad avenues, robust river transportation, segregated towns etc. that marked the great cities of the ancient world. Modern India seems to have woken up to the problem only after it hit us in the face and we started to suffer economically. Roads and other channels of movement are corridors of economic growth. Most of the Great Civilisations on the Earth, developed along rivers. From ancient Egypt along the Nile to the Indus Valley Civilisation, The Ganges, Amazon, Tigris Euphrates, Yangtze & Yellow Rivers... the list goes on. In the absence of free movement, there is economic and environmental degradation. History proves it !

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