By the year 2031, an estimated 600 million people are expected to be living in Indian cities. One might assume that population growth in urban areas directly translates to better facilities for living, including efficient public transportation-however, only about 20 Indian cities with population of over 500,000 have any kind of organized public transport systems.
Over the last few decades, the continuous growth of the economy and the simultaneous rise in income levels have led to an increase in the number of privately owned vehicles. Put another way, the share of public transportation in large Indian cities has seen a 30 percent decline, from around 70 percent in 1994 to just about 40 percent in 2007. Thus, due to the decreased availability of mass transit systems, cities are facing severe traffic issues, including congestion, accidents, a rise in greenhouse gas emissions, and even fast-rising energy bills.
The cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases by transportation systems (both public and private) are known to contribute to climate change and have also been flagged for the consequences to the health levels and quality of life of citizens. That aside, in countries like India, traffic congestion severely hampers mobility and accessibility, affecting social and economic activities. Therefore, to develop facilities that offer efficient and sustainable mass transportation systems, there is a strong need for better urban planning and policy interventions. The objective is, thus, to design a systematic, practical, and comprehensive approach that can develop and maintain a sustainable urban transport system.
Cities can overcome challenges such as these by adopting measures that focus on reversing the preference for private transportation and simultaneously increasing the preference for sustainable urban transportation. This can be achieved via city planning-the development and retrofitting of cities to minimize the need for private automobiles. In that regard, the IFC is collaborating with city and state administrations in the five selected cities to create an enabling environment in which a sustainable urban transport system may be developed. It is also holding discussions with city-level leadership and key decision-makers responsible for the implementation of this sustainable urban mobility.
In addition, the IFC also reviews the schemes under development by the central and state governments, aside from documenting urban mobility lessons learned globally, especially in China, Norway and Netherlands, and assessing the environmental and social impact of replacing fossil fuel fleets with electric vehicle fleets in target cities.