Nick AldworthNick Aldworth, general manager of Transport for London

“Air pollution is estimated to reduce average life expectancy by eight months.”

Central London introduced a congestion charge in 2003 to control traffic in the inner city. Private vehicles entering the area are charged on the basis of number plates recognised with the help of cameras fitted at the entrance and exits in the control zone. If the vehicle owners are not in the exemption list and fail to pay congestion charge, they are penalised and the money is deducted directly from the vehicle owners' bank account.  Concessions and exemptions are given to certain categories of vehicle owners like the physically challenged and owners of electric vehicles.

The benefits of the congestion charge is tangible, said Aldworth. There is a drop of 27 per cent in overall traffic. The measure led to a steep decline in use of private cars and motorcycles in central London.

Transport managers also introduced a scheme targeting large goods and transport vehicles which exceed the European Union guidelines on emissions and were using the main ring roads in greater London. The London Low Emission Zone was introduced in 2008 and covers an area of 1,580 sq km. The aim of the programme is to target highly polluting vehicles and reduce PM10 (particles less than 10 micrometre in size). Polluting vehicles are charged 200 pounds a day to enter the zone; if they don't pay the fee, they are fined 2,000 pounds. So vehicle owners have no choice but to make their vehicles compliant with Euro III emission standards.

Aldworth said the Low Emission Zone scheme  targets reduction in pollution where it is needed most—on the roadside where pollution is heaviest because a lot of it comes from diesel engine vehicles. Since 2008 the LEZ has saved PM10 exhaust emissions up to 3.6 per cent or 28 tonnes.

Evaluation of public transport systems in four Indian cities

Madhav PaiMadhav Pai, director of EMBARQ (India)

“It is necessary that political leaders believe in the ability of bus based transport to solve the mobility needs of a city. This enables the execution of reforms that are essential to ensuring long term sustainability of mobility”

EMBARQ India, a non-profit initiative of the World Resource Institute, is an expert body working on environmentally and financially sustainable transport systems. Pai spoke on the problems that have beset sustainable transport experiments in some of the Indian cities. EMBARQ evaluated public transport systems of four Indian cities—Indore, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad.  

Indore City Transport Service (ICTSL) with its fleet of 110 buses serves 90,000 people. Pai said that major challenges faced by the transport service are lack of infrastructure and frequent change of chief executive officer. The 125 buses introduced in the city under JNNURM, have merely replaced the earlier fleet of buses and has not augmented transport service, he said.

In Jaipur, the special purpose vehicle (SPV), Jaipur City Transport Services Ltd (JCTSL) tried to find a private operator to manage the bus service, but ended signing up a five year contract with another state agency, namely the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation. Pai said though revenue generation has increased after the SPV was set up, maintenance of buses is a major area of concern because JCTSL relies on the state transport corporation for depots, terminals and maintenance.

Bengaluru has a bus fleet operated by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, set up in 1997. The corporation has a fleet of 6,122 buses, which ferry 4.8 million passengers a day and accounts for 46 per cent of all motorised travel within the city. EMBARQ study says one of the major areas of concern is the poor performance of the public transport buses during the peak hours between 5 pm and 8 pm. Pai said his organisation is preparing a scheme wherein bus companies can measure peak hour performance and plan smarter routing techniques.

Ahmedabad has a bus rapid transit system (BRTS)—Janmarg--operating along 45 km road length. The BRTS has a fleet of 88 buses, catering to 140,000 passengers. The systems in Amedabad and Indore have been developed based on the new concept of public-private partnerships. These systems are still in their infancy, but are headed in the right direction. Only time will tell if they will become successful systems that provide mobility to the majority of the population in these cities.

Pai said that major problems in the bus transport systems in these four cities include  inadequate number of buses, infrastructure facilities and problems arising from lack of a separate planning and operation department.

Dutch cities' transition to non-motorised transportation

Mark BrusselMark Brussel, urban infrastructure planning and management expert, faculty member of ITC University of Twente in Netherlands
“Young and old, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, everybody cycles. A Dutch person cycles 1000 km per year, walks 250 km per year. It is the only nation with more bicycles than people—1.2 per person”

In Netherlands, 27 per cent trips are made on bicycles and 19 per cent by walking. Public transport plays a very minor role in the country and that is mainly because Dutch cities are compact. Brussel said there is no city in Netherlands where one cannot reach one's destination using a bicycle.

The bicycle has become an icon of Dutch culture and all cities have bicycle lanes and the bicycle infrastructure is well integrated with public transport. Besides, land use planning and and traffic management plans are drawn in such a way that it promotes cycling. Municipalities have a separate budget for cycling related projects. For instance, Amsterdam spends Euros 20 million a year on such projects every year.   

Odisha's experiment with PPP model bus service

Saurabh GargSaurabh Garg, commissioner-cum-secretary of housing and urban development department of Odisha   

“Fare revision formula linked to price index and fuel price has made the public-private-partnership model, chosen for running city bus services in Bhubaneswar, Puri and Cuttack, financially viable”

Garg spoke on choosing the right financial model for making public transport systems efficient and financially viable. The Union Ministry of Urban Development had sanctioned 125 buses for use in public transport under JNNURM. A special purpose vehicle was set up to plan and monitor the city bus services. Odisha state opted for the public-private-partnership model under which a private operator was selected to run 100 buses on 13 routes, covering Bhubaneswar, Puri and Cuttack. The bus service is used by 37,000 to 42,000 passenger.   

Garg said there was a need to integrate the city bus services with autorickshaws and other modes of transport to better organise public transport system and provide seamless travelling to commuters. Garg attributed the success of the PPP model to security, organised service, efficiency of bus service partner, assured timing and the comfort provided by modern low floor buses. He said plans are afoot to increase the fleet of buses to 250 and to implement bus rapid transit system (BRTS) along six corridors in Bhubaneswar.

Tax can be an effective tool to curb vehicular pollution

Don S JayaweeraDon S Jayaweera, director general of department of development finance in the ministry of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka

“Tax is an effective tool to manage demand for vehicle ownership and usage.”

Sri Lanka has introduced a low tax regime for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)  because of which demand is shifting towards more energy-efficient hybrid vehicles. HEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine or other propulsion source that can be run on conventional or alternative fuel and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery.

“Our experience shows that demand elasticity for vehicles and income elasticity should be considered at the time of deciding the appropriate tax and the market should be monitored to see final objectives are met. If the desired changes are not met, then suitable policy changes should be made,” said Jayaweera.

He added that change in import policy has ensured that only hybrid vehicles that use latest technology arrive in the country. The country has also introduced certain disincentives for polluting vehicles. For instance, the duty on diesel cars is as high as 300 per cent.  

Diesel vehicles can be clean

Anup BandivadekarAnup Bandivadekar, a senior researcher with the International Council on Clean Transportation in Washington DC 

“Much cleaner diesel vehicles are possible. Availability of <50 ppm sulphur fuel countrywide opens up the possibility of leapfrogging to Euro VI standards”

Bandivadekar spoke on the emerging regulatory challenges. He warned that in the absence of a future roadmap, India will lag behind other countries in reducing CO2 emissions. To control emissions from the growing number of vehicles, he said any vehicle emission reduction programme should include multiple strategies. These include:
•    reducing fuel consumption, for which policy instruments like fuel economy standards should be enforced
•    Introducing vehicle emission standards and (Euro V/VI or US Tier II and III)
•    Improving fuel quality
•    Reducing carbon content in fuels and sulphur content in fuels to near zero levels (<10 ppm) 
The senior researcher said that cleaner diesel vehicles are possible through stricter standards and through retrofitting. With diesel particulate filters (DPFs), soot emission can be reduced significantly. These filters are installed in passenger vehicles that comply with Euro V standards and in heavy duty vehicles compliant with Euro VI standards. DPFs can also be retrofitted in older vehicles, provided <50 ppm sulphur fuel is available. Eventually less than 10ppm sulphur fuel will be needed for for optimal performance of vehicles. Bandivadekar also emphasised on achieving emission reductions in real driving conditions after a vehicle leaves the factory gate. 

Hong Kong's initiatives to cut emissions has achieved little 

Mike KilburnMike Kilburn, Environmental Programme Manager, Civic Exchange, a public policy think tank in Hong Kong

“Around 1,000 people die prematurely because of air pollution every year in Hong Kong and about seven million visit doctors each year for related health problems”

The major indicator for roadside pollution is NOx. Kilburn said even after many measures taken by the government, pollution levels are not decreasing.  Out of 6.5 lakh total vehicles, 1.3 lakh or 20 per cent are diesel vehicles which are contributing  75 per cent of the total NOx emissions.

The main reason of road pollution is the city bus fleet which comply with Euro III standards. In addition there are other sources of pollution such as power stations, marine sources, and factories in the Pearl river delta.

The government’s approach to reduce pollution is that they will set emission standard for new vehicles. But existing vehicles are exempt and don't need to clean out. The possible solutions for environment protection in Hong are: converting taxis and minibuses to run on LPG; incentive schemes; tightening of fuel standards; introduction of catalytic converters and diesel particular filters; legislation on idling engine which excludes minibuses and taxis.

Energy efficiency of transport: a policy perspective

Kirit S ParikhKirit S Parikh, Chairman of Integrated Research and Action for Development and former Planning Commission member

“Unless we improve city structures and efficiency of mobility with good road networks the problem of congestion and mobility cannot be solved”

India has around 300 million persons in urban areas and is projected grow 700 to 800 million persons in 2050.  Mostly the large cities have huge mobility problem with congested roads, poor public transport and non-existent pavements and cycle tracks. In many cities construction of metro and buses lanes have begun but it is a long process. People will not shift to public transport unless it provides the same comfort as private vehicle do.

We need a structure which can help cities to evolve organically and yet have a measure of mass transport. Rather than concentrating on larger cities which are already developed, the concentration should be on small and medium towns and have a projection of how they will evolve in the next 60 years. The best option would be to establish certain mass transport corridors, acquire the right of way and then decide the line of development. These corridors can be financed by floor space index (FSI, ratio of built up area to the plot size) along these corridors and then auction FSI to owners for financing the projects. This will create a trade system which is flexible and gives people the right to choose the type of environment they want to live.

Otherwise the large cities will grow and take over cancerous growth and create undesirable quality of life. The possible solution for mobility improvement in larger cities can be that parking charges and congestion charges should be introduced in most of the areas and introduction of new technology of electric or hybrid scooters, electric bicycles can be developed.

Star rating for cars on the anvil

Ajay MathurAjay Mathur, Director General of India's Bureau of Energy Efficiency

“Cars are growing and will grow at a fast rate. The average weight of the Indian car is increasing as people opt for bigger and heavier cars. So there is need for an institutional framework for putting in place a fuel efficiency programme”

Mathur spoke on the new standards and labelling system in the pipeline that will be developed and notified under the Energy Conservation Act; it will be implemented by the Union surface transport ministry and would be based on fuel efficiency. He spoke of a corporate average fuel consumption standard which will be based on the ‘sales weighted average fuel consumption’ of a manufacturer’s fleet of passenger cars sold.    The standard will push manufacturers to sell more efficient cars. This will be converged with existing processes such as fuel quality upgradation and consequences of up-weighting and relatively low penetration of electric vehicles by 2020.

Mathur said there is a need to push manufacturers to provide efficient vehicles, but that even consumers should go for fuel efficient cars even if they want heavy cars. So, what will be required is a labelling system under standard conditions.

In future, heavier cars will have to be more efficient. In 2015-16 standards, fuel consumption of vehicles will be measured according to the type approval test (TAP for certifying vehicles before they are sold) procedures notified under the Motor Vehicles Rules. For compliance purposes and corporate average, CO2 generation standard will be used.

The new labels would be designed on the basis of fuel is consumption for each weight class and star rating would be given accordingly. The stars would display the relative efficiency of the model in a weight class. This label would be upgraded every four to five years. Soon a voluntary compliance programme would be announced.

How New York City reclaimed space from cars for people 

Dani SimonsDani Simons, Director Communications of Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), New York, a non-profit 

“Facing traffic congestion, New York needed a transportation policy with a new perspective which would help in improving bus system and expanding and improving public spaces in the city and developing bicycling into a safe and local travel option”

People living in big compact cities have a far lower carbon footprint than people living in more sprawling cities. This means people need to be encouraged to move to big cities and making a commitment to improve the quality of life and reduce the CO2 emissions to 30 per cent.

As the population and traffic had been increasing in new York and causing lot of congestion, mayor Michael Bloomberg along with New York's transport department introduced a policy framework which combines sustainability with considerations of future growth of the city known as PLANYC.

There were two main principles. The first was sustainable mobility in the city streets. The second was making urban streetscape valuable, attractive and important public space. Even if the cities are dense, they should have more space to move people around and look attractive at the same time.

One of the signature projects under the transportation policy was transformation of a broadway into a green corridor running through mid-town Manhattan. It now features major public plazas. The space has gone from cars to people. This has created more pedestrian space on the broadway. No heavy construction was involved. The corridor was easily transformed with paint, some planters and stone slabs. The project was a low cost one. All of this has helped New Yorkers believe that PLANYC is a real thing and not just a policy which is made but not implemented,  as is the case in India.

Now there are 80 per cent more people walking. More of foot traffic has been good for business for retailers. Some business managers who worried that the lack of car traffic would make them lose money actually found that the thousands of pedestrians and bikers who turned up helped them earn more money.

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