Cover Story

Solving India's biggest problem of mobility will open opportunities for technology and service providers

March 2018
India's rapidly growing urban population (590 million by 2030) and zooming motorisation rate (400 per cent increase in 15 years) is making cities commute unfriendly. Less than 20 per cent of people use public buses in 33 of India's top 53 cities. This situation has occurred owing to the demand-supply gap, frequent bus breakdowns and high congestion.

Sharing the statistics of the 99 shortlisted Smart Cities, Mohit Kochar, Head-Marketing & Corporate Affairs (Automotive & Transportation), Business Leader-Smart Cities, KPIT, says, 'Seventy-two per cent of the cities have cited transportation as their key focus area with specific focus on intelligent transport systems, electro mobility and traffic management. Clearly, the above-mentioned factors have played a key role in defining the mobility roadmap for smart cities.'

Also, Awadhesh Kumar Jha, Vice President-Charge & Drive & Sustainability, Fortum India, shares, 'The identified smart cities are either facing issues of serious pollution or are set to face the same in future if they continue with the same mode of transportation.'Also, cities lack a quality public transport system, barring cities such as Delhi and Mumbai that have the metro and other public transport. This will be
a focus area for smart cities.   

For his part, Rasik Pansare, Co-Founder, and CMO, Get My Parking, adds, 'When Get My Parking was established in 2015, we realised the main problem in the parking industry is that the supply side is completely unorganised and manual. There is complete lack of digital technology.' To help achieve smart parking, the company is focussing on digitising parking operations and ticketing for the supply side. 'We have created a solution that can work and operate on each and every parking area, whether it is underground, over-ground, surface, on street, off street, etc.'
Both Kochar and Jha lay emphasis on the need to increase public transport, and reduce the pollution and congestion arising from it.

Jha adds, 'Mobility on an electric platform will definitely take care of pollution at the local level because you will not have any fuel pipe emissions.' With the company primarily supporting electric mobility adoption, it has identified seven cities - without necessarily attaching them to smart cities - as early adopters of electric vehicles: Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Ahmadabad. In fact, Fortum India recently signed an MoU with Nagpur Municipal Corporation to develop charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in the city. 'In 2018, we have an internal target of putting up 50 to 150 chargers for these locations. But if we also find a proposal for other smart cities such as Indore, Jabalpur or Bhopal, we are happy to join hands with these.'

Meanwhile, Kochar shares, 'Use of intelligent transport systems such as real-time tracking and vehicle health monitoring in public transport will ensure higher efficiency of buses, ie, fewer breakdowns and delays.'

KPIT executed a pilot project for Pune, where it used anonymous call data records (CDRs) of citizens to determine their movement and plan the routes of public transportation. The data-oriented results helped city authorities understand the way bus routes need to be planned to cater to maximum people.

'Also, mobile app-based services have turned the corner in many applications,' adds Kochar.

'Shared mobility is seeing large-scale acceptance around the world. It is one of the ways to reduce congestion.' Further, he views the regional rapid transit system (RRTS) as a great concept for cities with a high population. 'If we take the example of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS, people living in Meerut and working in Delhi don't need to move to Delhi anymore as they can reach Delhi in 30 minutes using RRTS instead of the two-and-a-half hours they need now.'

Successful implementation of smart mobility technologies in India will require collaboration from all stakeholders - government, media, research institutes, transporters, technology builders and solution providers - to bring in expertise, capital and the latest technologies. 'The private sector needs to take full advantage of the market opportunities and help transform India's transportation system,' affirms Kochar.