India’s public transport system to be more like London, says Union minister Nitin Gadkari


The Indian transport minister, Nitin Gadkari made a pact with TfL (Transport for London), to overhaul the public transport system in India. The search is currently on for an innovative transport model which will be on par with other foreign countries. This has been introduced due to the fact that the share of buses as mean of transport has decreased from 15% to just 1%. This will also help in controlling pollution and decreasing the amount crude oil that needs to be imported into the country.

This news follows Government of India’s previous declaration of making India a country with only electric cars on road by 2030. The latter does seem a little farfetched though, as there have only been hybrid car launches in the market, like the new Toyota Camry hybrid sedan, instead of electric ones like Tesla’s premium luxury sedan, the Model S.

TfL is the agency who is responsible for managing the transport system in Greater London. They have created a one-of-a-kind framework for the operation of buses based on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model where more than 17 different owners joined hands to form a single brand. The use of highly efficient double-decker buses is the most important feature of this model. Use of electric and hybrid buses & the introduction of mobility cards was some of the positive ideas that were implemented.

An MoU has been signed with TfL which will help the MoRTH to implement the top-notch practices to reform the policies for the transport sector. This will also improve customer service by collecting data for analysis and implementing the effective technological infrastructure for the sector. Efforts are being done to introduce skybuses on selected routes and an Austrian firm might have been selected of the development, Mr. Gadkari added.

To curb the high levels of pollution in Delhi and other places, for public transport, electric vehicles should be used and the central government is pushing for it. Further, the government is also working to develop the charging infrastructure, the minister added. Gadkari proclaimed that this mode of transport will control the pollution levels as the auto-sector is growing with an annual growth of 22 percent and to run the traffic smoothly will require additional lane of highway every third year at a cost of Rs 80,000 crore, which is not viable.

He pointed out some statistics, cited the example of his constituency Nagpur where 200 e-taxis are already on the road while another 1,000 will be added by December. There are already 20 charging stations in the city, while fast-charging stations are also being created which can charge a battery in 15 minutes flat. The cost of lithium-ion batteries has already been slashed by 40 percent and mass production could lead to further reduction in prices, Gadkari added. He also quoted that ethanol and methanol could be a good substitute and could be generated from fruit, mutton waste, etc. just like they are producing Bio-CNG in Nagpur.

As of now, 35 buses are running on ethanol in Nagpur and they are planning to convert all 450 busses to run on ethanol. On productivity, Mr. Gadkari added that Assam petroleum, Gujarat fertilizers, etc., are some of the manufacturers of ethanol in the country. He stated that the import of crude oil is a big economic expense for the country and these options will help in reducing the import of crude oil.

When questioned on the use of water transportation, Gadkari told that development framework is being made to convert the rivers into waterways and Varanasi to Haldia waterway is just a start. This stretch is capable of transporting 280 tonnes of cargo but as of now, it is limited to just 80 tonnes.