CONNECTKaro kicks off to an exciting start

Press Release - Bangalore, 10 March, 2014

 

EMBARQ India's two day annual conference, is taking place in Bangalore on March 10 and 11.

 

The second edition of CONNECTKaro, got off to an exciting start today. Held at the ITC Gardenia, CONNECTKaro, is EMBARQ India’s annual conference on sustainable transportation. This edition of CONNECTKaro is being organised in association with the Directorate of Urban Land Transportation (DULT), Government of Karnataka. Day one was attended by over 200 people and many more joined the sessions online.

 

Madhav Pai, Director of EMBARQ India began the opening session on “Sustainable Transport Trends & Opportunities for Indian Cities” by laying out the framework for the broad focus areas of CONNECTKaro. These were: sustainable bus transport, transit oriented development, road safety, active commuting and living and leveraging private sector capacity. Mr Pai said that the challenge in India, with its burgeoning urban population “is to connect people to cities”.

 

Dr. Dario Hidalgo, Head- Research and Practice EMBARQ India, said that more than 10% of GDP of most countries is lost in congestion. The challenge he outlined is to shift the “paradigm from moving cars to moving people”. In his presentation, Dr. Hidalgo established four keys for bringing about a paradigm shift. These were, gathering community support, create technical teams, allocate funds to sustainable transport and also capture trends and grabs opportunities when they arise.

 

Mr. J.P. Gupta, IAS, Commissioner of Transport, Government of Gujarat spoke about the trends in sustainable transport from an Indian perspective. He highlighted that transport and cities as two separate components, provide us with a very worrying picture, throughout the world.

 

Mr. Srinivasachari, spoke about the major transportation initiatives in Bangalore, especially those in non-motorised transportation. He said “we need to bring in structured policy to meet the different segments of demand”. Given the rate of rapid urbanisation of Bangalore, he stressed that the need for Bangalore is a focus on improving the scale and quality of public transport and ensuring politics, pricing and investment do not needlessly promote private vehicle use..

 

Dr Ashwin Mahesh, speaking about the inability of urban plans to control urban growth, said that “we cannot say growth in cities is unprecedented. We should be cognizant of this when we approve our development plans”.

 

Speaking about integrated mobility, Ms Manjula V, transport commissioner, DULT, pointed out that Karnataka is a fast urbanising state, with over 39% of its population living in its cities. The challenge she said was urban sprawl but the silver lining is that Karnataka already has a good public transport base that is only growing stronger. The corner stones to ensure the continual importance of public transport, she said are, building a framework for mobility plans for cities, a focus on public transport, travel demand management and capacity building. Speaking integrated mobility in Hubli Dharwad, she said that while buses “comprise of 7% of the vehicles but move 70% of the traffic”.

 

The Key Note Address on Day 1 of CONNECTKaro was given by Dr. Bimal Patel, President, CEPT University and focused on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) as it applies to India. Sanjay Sridhar, Strategy Head, Urban Development & Accessibility, EMBARQ India opened the session with a brief introduction on Dr.Bimal Patel and set the context for the session. Specifically, he mentioned about defining TOD for India and that the key TOD principles followed elsewhere in the world does not apply to the Indian context and hence figure out ways in which this can be adapted to India.  

 

Dr.Bimal Patel made a presentation on the TOD project for Ahmedabad’s Central Business District (CBD and the strategies followed by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to manage densification. Some of the key strategies included developing and following a long term plan, working with the developers to get their buy-in and expanding the public realm through “plot-level micro surgery.”

 

On a question from Sanjay, regarding managing developer reaction, Dr.Patel mentioned that they worked with the developers to ensure that the plans were successful in the commercial sense. On another question regarding conformance to Fire Code Regulations in the National Building Code (NBC), he responded that due to public realm expansion, developers have not shown any resistance to conforming to NBC as they will not have to provide the typical setback area that will be required as per the traditional plan. He concluded the session by stating that the first TOD adoption and implementation will garner resistance from public and government alike due to wrong perceptions. Through continuous education and putting in proper financing and implementation mechanisms in place, TODs will be successful and make the difference in making a city livable.

 

Post lunch there were parallel sessions on Road Safety through Sustainable Transport and Enabling Integrated Planning in the Town and Country Planning Act. The session on road safety began with Mr. J.P. Gupta, IAS, Commissioner of Transport – Government of Gujarat presenting various initiatives in Gujarat that can lead to road safety. A key element in his presentation was the introduction of an additional parameter in dealing with the multidimensional safety problem i.e. Entrance test, in addition to the Education, Engineering and Enforcement way of dealing with the issue. Stringent testing is a part of a new program launched in 2010 called ‘swarnim’ wherein a completely automated test track and improved licensing system has begun in 17 districts in Gujarat. He pointed out that road accidents in Gujarat in the last decade far exceeded the number of lives lost in some of the most ferocious earthquakes in India, "last year Gujarat lost 8746 lives in road accidents; total lives lost in India being equal to 1040000".

 

Dr. G Gururaj, Professor and Head, Department of Epidemiology at NIMHANS spoke about Urban road safety issues in India, specifically about the current scenarios, opportunities, challenges and strategies to yield results. In his presentaiton he highlighted that growing urbanisation and economic liberalisation are leading to increased motorisation and each year number of people dying is increasing. He stated that, “Alcoholism, diabetes, high stress, obesity and various illnesses are scientifically linked to motorisation”. He maintained that road safety is a multi-faceted, complex phenomena and the persistance of road deaths indicates two specific things: enough has not been done or we dont know what to do. According to Dr. Gururaj, road safety, is pure science and not ad hoc that needs to be dealt with in a scientific manner. Although the yearly numbers of road fatalities are staggering, yet they skip our attention, he said.

 

Mr. N Ramakrishnan presented the analysis of fatal crashes involving Chennai city, Metropolitan Transport Corporation Buses. The results showed that there are 40 fatal crashes per thousand buses per year, however there was a lack of in-depth scientific analysis.

 

Binoy Mascarenhas of EMBARQ India demonstrated the best practices for road design in the urban Indian context and stressed on the fact that junction design should be contextual. Rather than a standard design, a standardised process for design is required. Binoy states that “ Although junctions take up only a fraction of the road space, they typically account for more than half of all road accidents.”

 

Mr. Girikumar K, specialist, accident research at Robert Bosch Engineering & Business Solutions He spoke about the rider behaviour of motorized 2-Wheeler in India. He highlighted that 35,900 people die each year on motorcycles. He stated that there is a dire need of a single pan India road accident database and there has been a step towards developing RASSI database system up according to international standards.

 

The second parallel session on Town and Country Planning Act focused on the need for landuse and transport integration in Indian cities empahsising on the need for favourable policies and legislation. Speaker pointed out that the current appraoch consists of merely increasing the densities around the Mass Transit Stations which highly insufficient to ensure sustainable transport objectives such as compact urban form, mixed use, travel demand management, completing the street network, multi modal integration, design from pedestrian and NMT perspective also go in tandem with increase in FAR. This was showcased through EMBARQ projects.

 

Discussions were also held around the need for the combination of “Top-Down” and “Bottom-Up” approach which could help in the faster and realistic integration of planning processes in India. There was an emphasis on the importance of moving from deterministic plan to scenario based approach for integration like economic geographies which could powerful way to understand and forecast the development.

 

Mr.Honnur, shared the current challenges faced by the Town planning department in Karnataka. He also stated that Karnataka Government’s intention of comprehensive revision of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act (KTCPA), 1961 based on the integrated spatial planning approach.

 

The day ended with two parallel Creative Sessions on Gender and Public Spaces and Bangalore Buses respectively. In the session on Bangalore Buses, Ashwin Prabhu and Arnab Roy of India gave an overview on the effective use of communications and marketing by public transit agencies. Mr Prabhu pointed that "the way big reforms are communicated to the public is important". The session involved brainstorming by three groups of 7-8 people each on the topics of user information, marketing and user education. Through the brainstorming sessions, the groups came up with interesting strategies and campaigns for information dissemination for the launch of the BMTC Big Bus network at various stages of the roll out of the project.

 

The session on Gender and Public Spaces began with Sonal Shah of EMBARQ India framing the context of cities being gendered by providing critical data on women’s travel patterns and limited access to public spaces. The participants sketched their experience of a public recreation space they visit often and their inputs were collated by dividing them into two groups of men and women. The collated information was presented by the moderators for the groups and distinct patterns were observed in how men and women experience public open space. Men’s concerns pertained to level of comfort and presence of amenities in public spaces. Women’s primary concern was about safety and their experience of the public space with respect to the five senses.

 

To find out more CONNECTKaro visit: www.connectkaro.org

 

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EMBARQ- the WRI Center for Sustainable Transport - is a not-for-profit initiative of the World Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental think tank in Washington, D.C. that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives. EMBARQ India is a member of the EMBARQ network which includes centres in Mexico, Brazil, India, Turkey and the Andean Region, which work together with local transport authorities to reduce pollution, improve public health, and create safe, accessible and attractive urban public spaces. The network employs more than 100 experts in fields ranging from architecture to air quality management; geography to journalism; and sociology to civil and transport engineering. EMBARQ India started activities in 2006 in Mumbai and has since then expanded to the cities of Bangalore and Delhi working with Indian authorities to catalyze and help implement solutions to the problems of urban mobility.

 

The World Resources Institute

WRI focuses on the intersection of the environment and socio-economic development. We go beyond research to put ideas into action, working globally with government, business, and civil society to build transformative solutions that protect the earth and improve people’s lives. www.wri.org. WRI India is an independent non profit organization, registered in the country as India Resources Trust. It seeks to find economically and environmentally sound solutions that are locally relevant, while adaptable at a national level.