Report by Odisha Diary bureau, Bhubaneswar: Taking part in a day-long workshop on Smart Mobility Solutions, organised today as part of the Bhubaneswar Urban Lecture Series, experts and administrators today called for an efficient and reliable bus-based smart mobility solution for the city.
The Bhubaneswar Urban Lecture Series is part of the Smart City initiative to discuss best practices around the globe under Smart Solutions and Urban Governance. It was jointly organised by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) and Bhubaneswar Puri Transport Services Limited (BPTSL). Bhubaneswar Urban Knowledge Centre (BUKC) and World Resource Institute (WRI) were the knowledge partners for the event. The event was inaugurated by Development Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary R. Balakrishnan.
Divided into four sessions, the lecture series had an Inaugural session and three others with topics: Strengthening public transportation in Bhubaneswar, Implementing complete streets in Bhubaneswar and Promoting public transportation through community outreach.
Chief Secretary AP Padhi, Development Commissioner R. Balakrishnan, Vice-Chairman BDA and MD of BSCL Dr. Krishan Kumar, BSCL CEO Vineel Krishna, Twin City Police Commissioner YB Khurania and additional commissioner-cum-Member Enforcement, BDA, Bhabani Chayani spoke in the event.
Renowned mobility expert Dr. Dario Hidalgo from World Resource Institute Bogota, Bankim Kalra, project director BUKC, Dr. Vijay Kovvali associate of IBI Group, Canada, well-known transport expert from Delhi Laghu Parasar, Urban planner from IBI Group Sandeep V, Sarika Panda from WRI India, Rupak Kumar Gouda from Hamara Bachpan and Dharitri Patnaik, Country Head, Bernard van Leer Foundation spoke as experts on the occasion.
Quote of Chief Secretary AP Padhi: We should have had such events 10 years before as for a better city transport solution is a major issue. Citing US cities where public transport system is not so well developed, he observed that ``we should not have car-centric development and must have efficient, reliable and cost-effective bus-based public transport system as metro rail is not feasible in a city like Bhubaneswar.’’
Quote of Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan: Smart City and Bhubaneswar topping the entire list in India has created a certain league and branding for our state of Odisha, which, in the past, was always known for all negative news and stories.
Calling for a team work to realise the Smart City Dream in Bhubaneswar, the senior administrator, who is also a researcher in history and culture of Odisha, said ``in the past the city was known for efficient urban planning, so in the present scenario we should go ahead and never forget our eventful past.’’
Quote of VC BDA, Dr. Krishan Kumar: As part of the Smart City Proposal during the Citizen Engagement exercises Mobility was voted as the most prioritised sector for the city’s development needs, so we have taken this as our topic of discussion in the first Urban Lecture Series.
Saying that now the city’s planning will be people centric and not car centric as it was the practice before, Dr. Kumar added that bus transport as the mass mobility tool will be the most suited for a city like Bhubaneswar. He also gave an example of London city, which having an efficient metro system, still depends on buses to carry more and more people on daily basis.
He, however, pointed out that the buses, however, will have standard buses, trolley buses, electric buses and BRTS or a collage of some from these modes. Metro system for Bhubaneswar may cost Rs 6,000 crore for a route of 100 km, but with a 10 percent cost we can have an efficient bus transport network, he added. With a new fleet of around 500 buses, the city is going to change the mobility scenario in two years’time, he added.
Quote of BSCL CEO, Vineel Krishna: While the state capital is having wide roads and it is one of the oldest planned cities of the country, the traffic congestion has created question marks. As during the Smart City Challenge people supported the cause for mobility solutions in the city, we are now trying to make it happen through implementing the plan. Already the revamping of traffic signalling system has started in the city.
Mobility Expert Dr. Dario Hidalgo, WRI Bogota: Bhubaneeswar is a planned city and also a heritage city, so the paradigm shift in urban mobility could be achieved through an efficient bus-based mobility plan. He emphasized coverage, frequency, reliability, comfort, price, women’s safety and last mile connectivity can make the transport option popular and efficient.
Sarika Panda, Manager, WRI India: Patha Utsav in Bhubaneswar, has so far attracted 6 lakh visitors, but 66 percent belonged to 18-35 years category. The planners must take a lead from this and incorporate open space in urban design so that the youth get more open space in the city.
Bhabani Chayani, Member Enforcement, BDA: The Patha Utsav has shown that apart from NMT it also teaching the planners and developers on road safety aspects as roads are used differently by a saree-clad woman or a small child. As a place to include citizens from all groups, Patha Utsav has taught everyone a lesson on road safety.
Laghu Parasar, Transport Expert: While talking on the bus-based transport model for Bhubaneswar, Parasar spoke on aggregator bus service model on the line of Ola and Uber. This new concept, according to him, has attracted 30 percent traveller from Delhi Metro for efficiency, reliability and last mile connectivity.
Bankim Kalra, Project Director, BUKC: Complete street programme along the Janpath from Vani Vihar Square to Sishu Bhawan with an investment of Rs 80 crore will have all elements of street planning i.e. cycle track, footpath, bus bays and transit oriented development.
CONCEPT NOTE ON THE EVENT: Urban areas in the first few decades of the 20th century were compact, mixed-use and walkable concentrations of activity. Most streets were shared streets where sustainable modes, including bicycles, animal-pulled carts, and pedestrians, were the dominant modes. They shared the common right-of-way with other public transport, freight, and private motorised modes affording equal respect and safety. As motorised vehicles increased manifold, the inherent balance of these shared streets was put under stress. Urban roads, particularly, became monopolized by private motor vehicles, pushing other modes to the edges of safe movement.
Bhubaneswar as one of the first planned cities of modern India has a grid network in place with wide roads, multiple gardens and parks to shape the urban environment of the city. However, in Bhubaneswar, conventional planning approaches have focused on private vehicular movement while a large percentage of trips (39%) are performed solely by walking and cycling and public transport modes (22%) including autos and buses. Even though, these numbers are healthy when compared to NMT modal shares in much of the developed world, the disturbing aspect is the trend of increasing motorisation and decline in NMT and public transport travel. Furthermore, traffic problems, degrading environment, road accidents, and encroachments are the manifestations of such conflicts that slowly ruins the development of Bhubaneswar.