Need to boost ridership in public transport affected by Covid | Latest India News
As cities plan for sustainable and resilient public transport systems, experts say ridership needs to return to pre-Covid levels, especially in metro networks, to minimize the long-term impact.
At the 14th Urban Mobility India conference, organized online by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, experts deliberated on overhauling transport systems to ensure ‘mobility for all’, which was the theme of the conference. They also underlined the need for integrated planning, innovative measures and mobility audits when planning capital-intensive public transport infrastructure.
Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the country has 733 km of operational metro rail network in 18 cities. “It (the metro network) provides a reliable and accessible means of transport for vulnerable sections… With an additional 1,046 km of network underway in 27 cities, the ministry is working to connect 50 towns and villages to the subway network. ‘by 2024,’ Puri said.
MoHUA Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said the focus was on making it easy to live with adapted urban mobility policies through innovation and technology in the sector.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the public transport system, including the metro network, which suffers huge losses due to persistent travel restrictions, experts noted.
Mangu Singh, managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), said ridership declined 48% from September 2019 to September 2021. “But to ensure social distancing and Covid protocols, we have decided to provide a maximum services so that the space available for passengers is maximum… As today, our ridership is around 27 lakh per day, ”Singh said.
Even private bus operators say their business has been badly affected. At a time when the Center plans to introduce a public transport bus operating program in second-tier cities on the public-private partnership model, bus operators say there is a need to provide financial support to compensate for losses incurred due to Covid.
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Prasanna Patwardhan, President and CEO of Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions, said: “Public transport should be treated as a priority sector. He pointed out that in many states, payments have been on hold for a year and a half as fuel prices have increased without any ticket price revisions.
“All of these aspects need to be taken into account when planning a resilient transportation system,” he said.
Experts say there is a need to reassess restrictions or rethink transportation system planning to prevent people from switching from public transport to personal vehicles.
“The decline in ridership in public transport systems, which are capital and income intensive projects, will have a long term impact as it will delay fleet expansion and technological advancements if the right interventions or financial aid is not given to agencies, “said Laghu Parashar, deputy project manager, SMART-SUT, GIZ India.