Air pollution is the most lethal environmental threat to the world today. A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that breathing polluted air kills 7 million people each year, with India alone accounting for more than a million deaths. Over the past decade, pollution in India has reached catastrophic dimensions. Transportation accounts for about 11% of India’s carbon emissions and is a major source of pollution in several cities nationwide. As many as, 14 of 20 most polluted cities in the world, 14 are in India, according to the WHO. In fact, the gravity of the situation has prompted the Indian government to directly leapfrog to the much cleaner Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) emission norms from the current Bharat Stage IV (BS IV) standards.
India is the world’s 5th largest automobile market, adding more than 25 million vehicles to its streets each year. It doesn’t matter what new evidence is produced, the fact that adding more petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles on the road desecrates our air is undisputed. As traffic congestions rise, so do the emissions. It seems intuitive that your car burns more fuel the faster you go. But the truth is that your car burns the most fuel when you find yourself in a sea of traffic cones — stuck in what looks more like a parking lot than a highway — that your car really starts eating up gas. The constant acceleration and braking of stop-and-go traffic burns more gas, and therefore pumps more pollutants into the air. Road traffic congestion and the subsequent air pollution are two of the most persistent, insurmountable transportation roadblocks of the modern urban city and its growing by the day. As cities come to a grinding halt every morning, policymakers are forced to think of permanent solutions that can cater to this catastrophic problem that has rid our country for decades.
Given the current predicament, it would not be wrong to assume that, shared mobility, can build a better, smarter and environment-friendly tomorrow. In a wider understanding, shared mobility are alternatives that aim to maximize the utilization of automobiles by providing users short-term access to a fleet of shared cars, bikes and scooters. In the last five years, the vehicle sharing juggernaut has taken many Indian cities by storm, especially due to its advantages over outright vehicle ownership. Sharing significantly reduce per-capita vehicle ownership, as each vehicle is utilized by multiple users. As more and more people begin to share, lesser would be the need of adding new vehicles on-road. The lesser the number of automobiles plying on the road, lower would be the emissions.
When combined with mass public transport, shared mobility becomes a powerful tool that could help cities alleviate massive road congestion and improve air quality. The urban travel landscape is now evolving with a host of mobility services like carsharing, carpooling, ride-hailing and bike sharing that are combining the benefits of both public and private transport. Cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad already foster a host of shared mobility options around public transport transit points like metro stations, bus stops and airports. These services act as feeder systems, driving more commuters to adopt public transport by simplifying the “first and last mile” of the journey.
An “integrated transportation system”, where we can seamlessly switch between transport options can create a paradigm shift in urban commute. We get much less traffic, reduced pollution, more effective transport and better cities with less space dedicated to roads and more to citizens. The downside is that in order to spark this change we must trade in our individual aspirations of vehicle ownership. This is not technically a challenge, but rather a test of our will to let go of our aspirations of owning personal vehicles for the betterment of our cities. The biggest change will perhaps be in the way we see the larger picture and whether we are able to coalesce regulatory norms and ease norms to recreate urban mobility in India.
Author: Ashwarya Singh, CEO and Co-Founder, Drivezy
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