What does one generally looks for while travelling? Quick, hassle free, safe and convenient mode of transportation! To get people to shift from private to public transport, the usability and access to public transport should be such that people choose it over their own vehicles.
This is however a classic chicken and egg problem because until the public sees an improvement in public transport they are not going to use it, and till the government sees people using it, it will not invest in public transport. In this case, the government will have to take the first bold steps and invest in the infrastructure of public transportation systems.
Points to be considered:
-Smaller buses should be introduced as they are fuel efficient and easy to maintain.Buses should run at high frequency to avoid overcrowding during peak hours. On-time departures will assure people that they will reach their destination on time.
-Buses should be spacious, clean, with cushioned seats, functional airconditioners, good leg space, sound proof windows etc if people are to shift from private vehicles.
-Special roads/lanes for buses will make the journey faster and smoother. The Delhi metro and Mumbai’s local trains are good examples because they run on more or less on time.
-Smart cards, or coupons and monthly passes will save passengers’ time and enable them to change their route easily.
-Better connectivity to different parts of the city will encourage the use of public transport.
-Gone are the days when people solely wanted cheap public transportation. With a growing middle income segment, more people will be willing to pay higher amounts for comfortable, faster travel.
-The government should increase parking charges for cars and private vehicles as the cost of land in cities is way higher than the charges taken. People should start thinking twice before taking their private vehicle anywhere. Towing charges should be increased to ensure disciplined parking.
-Maintenance should be given priority. This should be given to private organisations just like it is done in the railways. Staff on board should be well groomed and trained to interact with the public and should be accountable.
What about technology?
-GPS systems installed at bus stops will enable people to see the bus routes and which buses are running on that route to enable them to estimate how long it will take to reach their destination.
Private partnership with government taking adequate initiatives will shift the masses from private to public transport. Our joint, creative efforts should be to find innovative solutions!