How is efficient and affordable urban mass transport key to the rapid economic development of India? (250 words)

India has seen a steady increase in its urban population, with 34% of the population living in urban areas in 2017 according to The World Bank. This rapid urbanization has placed a focus on the issue of transportation in cities, as increased traffic congestion leads to slow urban mobility and impacts the economy and the quality of life for citizens.

Efficient and Affordable Urban Mass Transport:

  • Supports clusters and agglomerations: In large metropolitan areas, growth can be hindered by the heavy use of private vehicles. Well-planned transportation can overcome this constraint and encourage agglomerations by allowing more people to live closer together in higher density developments.
  • Increases Productive Man-hours: In large metropolises such as Bengaluru, a significant amount of time is spent in traffic during transit to work. Efficient and affordable urban mass transport systems can save this time for productive work, contributing to economic growth.
  • Enhances Job and Labor Force Accessibility: Improved accessibility in public transportation increases the pool of available employees for the job market.
  • Reduces Dependency on Private Transport: Increased use of personal vehicles leads to higher carbon emissions and noise pollution, as well as a strain on parking and traffic. Efficient urban mass transport systems discourage private vehicle use, leading to reduced pollution and congestion.
  • Health Benefits: Exposure to unhealthy air during travel is a major contributor to health problems in India. Efficient transportation options reduce the need for harmful road transport, improving air quality and overall public health.

Way Forward:

  • Government policies such as the National Transit Oriented Development Policy, 2017 and the Green Urban Transport Scheme, 2016 aim to ensure an affordable, efficient and accessible mobility system.
  • Regulations should be introduced to encourage efficient use of existing roads and smarter traffic management.
  • Upcoming projects like Hyperloop and Suburban railway may prove to be a better option.
  • The Smart Cities Programme, which aims to promote non-motorized transport in 100 cities, is a step in the right direction.
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