The Union ministry of urban development has recommended that all states, which have cities with a population of more than a million, establish urban metropolitan transport authorities as the single regulatory body that will co-ordinate a variety of transport mediums that compete for space on the country’s roads.
“The problem in most cities right now is the fact that there is little or no co-ordination between various agencies,” said an official at the ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Hence their decisions aren’t part of a larger plan. Currently, a variety of agencies have mandates over issues that have a direct effect on urban transportation. There are far too many actors taking decisions that other agencies don’t know about. This initiative is one way of solving that problem.”
The directorate, which would serve as a single body, will have members from various government agencies including government and private bus operators, metro and local trains, regional transport offices which provide licences and register vehicles, and even the traffic police and the state public works departments which maintain roads.
The move is seen as a way to reduce the fragmentation of transport-related institutions in the country’s cities and help urban planners and local governments formulate a cohesive transportation plan taking into account each city’s peculiarities.
“I have written to the chief secretaries of all states,” said M. Ramachandran, secretary to the ministry of urban development.
“Some states, such as Karnataka, have already begun forming their directorates,” noted another official.
The official who did not want to be named, however, said while a letter had been sent, it could be a while before states actually acted on it.
While saying the directive is a good move, urban transport experts said the authority would have to be vested with enough power to make a difference.
“It is good that they want to do this, but besides a wishlist for an agency, the governments should also invest it with some power so it can bring various members into line,” said Dinesh Mohan, Henry Ford professor of transportation safety at the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.