The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has called for the revival of non-motorised transport in an advisory issued to the States, Union Territories, Cities, and Metro Rail Companies even as it said that there was a steep drop in public transport ridership volumes by 90 per cent.
The advisory, issued by Mr. Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, also called for the active utilisation of technology to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Enabling technologies such as Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), indigenous cashless and touch less system like BHIM, PhonePe, Google Pay, PayTM etc and National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) will reduce human interaction, in operations of public transit systems, the advisory suggested.
It called for a three-pronged strategy that may be adopted in a phased manner: Short (within six months), Medium (within 1 year) and Long term (1 to 3 years). As most of the urban trips are clocked in under five kilometres, non-motorised transport offers perfect opportunity to implement in this COVID 19 crisis as it required low cost, less human resource, was easy and quick to implement and environment friendly, the advisory said.
The press release also called for restarting public transport with greater confidence of Commuters. It is imperative at this stage that transmission of infection through usage of public transport should be curbed by adopting the right sanitisation, containment and social distancing measures.
Between 16 per cent and 57 per cent of urban commuters are pedestrian and about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of commuters use bicycles in the country depending on the size of the city, according to various studies conducted by the ministry.
The country has 700 km of operational metro rail in 18 major cities and a BRT network of about 450 km operational in 11 cities across the country carrying 10 million passengers daily. But due to the social distancing norms being practiced, their capacities would be utilised at 25 to 50 per cent of pre-corona virus levels. This will require complementing these public transport systems with alternative modes of transit.
In India, where ownership of personal modes is still at relatively low level, providing safe and reliable mobility options for users will be a priority for cities. Cities will need to ensure alternative mobility options to keep their cities moving as the economies restart, the advisory said.