After the COVID-19 pandemic led to a reassessment of public transport systems, the focus of government interventions going forward would be on non-motorised transport, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday.
Mr. Puri was speaking during the inaugural session of the Urban Mobility Conference held virtually this time due to the pandemic.
“Public transport systems around the world have seen ridership and revenue plummet, owing to the lockdowns and have been forced to cut services…In the aftermath of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, India is likely to experience a behavioural change in urban mobility. This crisis also presents an opportunity to guide the recovery of urban transport towards long-term development goals,” Mr. Puri said.
He said mobility in the future would strive to be environment-friendly, integrated, automated and personalised. The Minister said studies had shown that 16-57 per cent of commuters in cities were pedestrians and about 30-40% used bicycles.
“Considering this as an opportunity, elevating the priority of these modes gives travellers another private vehicle alternative, which is clean, safe, secured particularly if it is integrated with other modes and affordable for all. Non-motorised transport will occupy the prime, non-negotiable, position in every form of urban mobility discourse and intervention,” he said.
Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said that apart from the 700 km of Metro lines functional in 18 cities and another 910 km under construction, the cheaper Metrolite and Metro Neo forms of transport were likely to come up in many cities.
Giving the keynote address of the session, Danish architect and urban design consultant Jan Gehl emphasised the need for making “cities for people”.