Need for Adoption of Innovation to Enable Multimodal Integration in Indian Cities Sudeept Maiti, Transport Professional and
Need for Adoption of Innovation to Enable Multimodal Integration in Indian Cities
ndia’s rapidly expanding urban centres are under tremendous stress as the existing transport infrastructure falls short of meeting the growing travel demands of an increasingly mobile urban population. While public transport agencies have tried to adapt to the demand, limited investment has often led to poor service levels. Adaptive operational plans meeting city commuting patterns and increased inter-institutional engagement will allow for better efficiency in resource allocation. One of the responses to counter the many negative impacts of congestion and pollution has been for Indian cities to invest in high-quality mass rapid transit systems. With addition of a transportation option that provides for a comfortable and reliable commuting option, what now remains is to address enabling of a mobility transition among urban commuters towards more multimodal transport solutions. I
Much of what is required to enable this is for metro rail agencies to create partnerships and complementarity with other modes of transport keeping commuter experience at its core while planning and strategizing for an integrated mobility service. Though Indian metro rail systems are experiencing growing adoption in Indian cities, they still have to deal with many challenges. Extending quality service and reliability that the system offers to the entirety of the journey while ensuring that door-to-door trips are competitive, both in terms of cost and comfort levels that are offered by other modes is essential. By implementing services that address these two aspects is when true commuter shifts from private vehicles to public transportation will take place. Addressing these challenges would require addressing issues such as growing dependency on privately owned vehicles for door-to-door trips due to convenience and comfort, integrating ticketing systems to enable seamless commuter experience and reduction of queueing time at different legs of the journey, safety and security of the passengers at metro stations, ease of access to metro stations and other complementary mass transit, parking of vehicles to enable ‘park and ride’ passenger transfers, increasing electric vehicle charging infrastructure, an initiative that would help push for more carbon neutral access. Considering many of these falls in the domain of multiple public and private agencies, a multistakeholder engagement in cities to cocreate and develop a strong solution is required.
Sudeept Maiti Transport Professional WRI India
Prateek Diwan Associate, WRI India
A large degree of inconvenience to commuters and inefficiency in services could be attributed to lack of integration among services. In 2006, the Government of India published the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) that recommends the creation of a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) in all cities with a million or more inhabitants. However, while many such organisations have been constituted, they do not have much authority or autonomy. Indian cities still have several distinct public transportation agencies who operate in silos that limits optimal governance and functions to be planned and managed, often leading to inefficient use of resources and hampers impact. While there are discussions for a stronger umbrella body –UMTA, to ensure seamless integration ofvarious modes of commuting and to improve coordination among the various agencies, there is yet to be significant progress on this front. UMTA proposes to enable and implement integrated ticketing, rolling out transportation
services by operating and managing them according to the commuter demand. It also looks to prepare a transportation master plan and a comprehensive mobility plan in accordance with best practices, for the entire urban mobility area to ensure integrated, comprehensive and planned development of urban transportation. Additionally, the authority will also establish an urban transport fund to provide guidelines on budgeting and accounting procedures to be followed and the mechanism for fund collection and disbursement. While UMTA is seen as a first step to unify all public transportation modes in the city, the mobilisation and implementation of such an agency might be successful through multiple iterations over time. Both Bangalore through DULT and Kochi through KMRL are experimenting with the formation currently. While the impact of a wellestablished UMTA will be unparalleled, there is potential for cities to begin the process of integration through enterprisedriven solutions like shared services model, product innovation in mobility and data-driven decision making for enhanced commuter experience.
The challenges of the integration process can be classified as 4 ‘I’s:
A station plays a key role in the travel experience as a commuter could potentially interact with it multiple times in a round trip. Suboptimal station design can bring unpredictability in travel that increases time and effort for commuters to traverse and transfer to multiple modes. Station design solutions can be tested to shorten transfer paths, reduce wait time, improve navigability, and increase circulation of commuters at transport hubs. Infrastructure integration is important to enhance commuter transfers between transportation modes. The physical design and revamp of the infrastructure would better the commuter experience and increase the likelihood of repeat usage. Station designs also influence safety and security of travel that enhances commuter experience. Design interventions could also extend to areas outside the metro stations to streamline the movement of pedestrians, entry and exit of parked vehicles, pick up and drop off of commuters and transfer paths to nearest bus stops. •
Commuters make transfer choices including the cheapest, safest, fastest, and most convenient mode of travel right from the beginning of the trip and during the trip. Information and payment integration by collecting and using existing data from different systems to draw better inferences for the dissemination of crowd and helping commuters make a seamless switch needs to be enabled. It also helps commuters plan trips with different combinations and permutations best suited to varying needs –cost, time etc.
With different transport systems operating in the city, there are many overlapping routes leading to redundancies and cannibalization of services. Integrated operations using data-driven decision-making plays a key role in helping agencies provide commuter-centric services and improve service levels of the network. By working inter-dependently and planning services according to passenger loads data, transport options can create a mobility network where the city can prioritize available resources for better efficiency. agency. An integrated ticketing system would assist in combination of modes and transfer, reduce time to purchase multiple tickets, reduce fraud and revenue leakage and reduce administrative & fare collection cost.
The following technology and data-driven interventions can be useful for UMTA to enable multimodal integration. Some of these could be:
Data-led station design templates that allow for best commuter experience. For transit agencies, creating a dashboard that allows localised information of passenger flows can assist in understanding and developing infrastructure for different loads and utilise existing infrastructure optimally to meet targeted service levels.
Fare integration is another aspect technology can assist with. The National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), will trigger rapid adoption of digital payments across transit use cases. Besides being cost effective vis-àvis cash payments, the card also aims to improve the efficiency and scale of public transit systems in the country.
Additionally, to increase the use of public transport and other modes, cities should aim at making the public transportation ticketing system attractive and easily accessible for commuters. The pricing system needs to be designed for coherence across modes for all commuter segments through integrated fares. The initiative for seamless, connected, single PoS ticketing across transport modes should be explored by the metro
While this will fall under the UMTA purview, examples from models like WHIM and Transport for London has enabled some aspects of multimodal cost saving to be passed on to passengers.
Protocols for data sharing between agencies will allow for planning of services that could enable seamless commuter transfers and also translate to cost-saving for transit agencies.
As commuters increasingly demand more seamless multimodal mobility, new technologies and business models are assisting agencies enable and manage the end-to-end travel experience. Parallelly, technology-led innovation in urban mobility has given rise to thriving entrepreneurship in the sector, with the evolution of business models that are transforming the way mobility is delivered and accessed. With multiple challenges faced by the different agencies, a mix of innovative solutions and strategies using design and data can demonstrate shortand long-term solutions wherein start-ups must adapt their business model to fit the city’s mobility landscape. The need for adoption of innovation and entrepreneurship models to improve city systems is a growing realisation amongst government agencies. There have been many efforts that have been made within the government through start-up initiatives to enable this through the Atal Innovation Mission and Startup India and others. Many government agencies are partnering with education institutions through platforms like hackathons and tech bootcamps that allow for data-based ideations in the Civic Tech space. One such program is the Station Access and Mobility Program (STAMP) which leverages entrepreneurship, innovation and mass transit, to enable multimodal mobility with the metro network at its core. The initiative has provided insights on how innovation-based improvements can be achieved through intermediary platforms that help enterprises and governments a de-risked sandbox to experiment. These platforms have the potential to help enterprises better understand the needs of a city and ideate service and business models. Recent advances in AI, sensor technologies, IoT, automation, real-time systems, and video analytics have also opened up new avenues for dynamic crowd management measures and feeder service models that help create more interactive and tailored transit experiences for commuters that can be tested through the platform. Some of the enterprises that have been a part of the initiative are last-mile companies who altered their business models to provide last-mile connectivity for public transportation users by enabling a drop-off rental model at metro stations instead of a point-to-point service. Similarly, there have been MOLTIMODAL TRANSPORT
multiple solutions proposed integrating ticketing and fares that have experimented with metro agencies and some enterprises use an aggregation model for sourcing surrounding parking inventories to make public transportation the main mile. One start-up is also developing solutions for effective passenger movement and throughput at metro stations using facial recognition and artificial intelligence With 13 Indian cities having functional metro rail networks, another 13 under construction and planning stages , and current total ridership of 7 million, the metro commuter market is sizable for enterprises and governments to pay attention to.
Increasing adoption of public transit by multimodal integration is the need of the hour. Formation of UMTA in Indian cities will enable this shift once the institutional and governance challenges are overcome. However, technology and data-led innovation is experimenting with and trying to solve for gaps in the current system which can accelerate the process.