Looking skywards in a bid to de-congest Indian roads | The Financial Express

Gadkari mulls skybus for tackling traffic congestion, RIL says trial possible in 2.5 years

Can the Skybus make it big in India? Road Transport Minister, Gadkari asks for reports, Reliance Industries indicates the first trial could happen as early as in 2.5 years.

Gadkari mulls skybus for tackling traffic congestion, RIL says trial possible in 2.5 years
Image Courtesy: Home-SkyTran

Traffic jam is a common phenomenon across most major Indian cities. Whether you are in Delhi, Mumbai, or Bengaluru, the scenes are similar during peak traffic hours – cars standstill bumper to bumper, two-wheelers trying to navigate between them. In fact, the TomTom traffic index report says, if you are stuck in traffic in Mumbai, Bengaluru, or Delhi, you are probably on one of the world’s top 10 most choked roads.  

According to a latest research, choked roads and traffic congestion is a vexing problem for Indian cities. Mumbai holds the dubious distinction of being the third most congested city globally accounting for an average of 121 hours lost in traffic and a 53 percent congestion level.  

Bengaluru and Delhi rank close by, at number five and account for 110 hours lost in traffic with a congestion level of 48 percent.

Increasingly as traffic continues to take a toll on economic, social and environmental growth, the need for alternative ways of transportation is becoming very important.

Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, recently, proposed introducing skybuses like in the Philippines and other countries to decongest roads. 

“It is difficult to widen the existing roads in Bengaluru. So, we have taken two decisions. We will not acquire land but we will build three-deck or grade separators as was done in Chennai,” Gadkari told reporters.

“We are studying it (skybus) and we want to do it. If lakhs of people travel in the sky then the problem below will be solved,” PTI quoted Gadkari.

Going one step further, NHAI officials have been directed to a three-month report-making project on the practicality and ways to construct skybuses based on consultations from experts all around the globe.

So, what is a skybus? 
In simple words, a skybus is similar to a Metro, running in the air on an elevated track with cables suspended below. An economical, new-age, mass transit system, skybus is the most viable solution to tackle the traffic woes running at a 100 km per hour speed. 

It is not the first time that a transport system like this has been discussed. There are a few other instances from the past, where similar projects missed the implementation. 

In 2003, a Rs 100 crore skybus project for Goa was introduced, which failed to take off. Konkan Railway Corporation scrapped the skybus in 2016, calling it ‘commercially unviable’.

However, one can always use past experiences as key learning platforms and the skybus has definitely made a come in policy circles. Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari has been insisting on the same, most recently at the ACMA and SIAM’s Annual Conventions. So, expectations are rife about a potential reintroduction.

While the government is working on the viability factor, the private sector has been active, in this regard, too. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries with its clean mobility-focused approach has already introduced the ‘skyTran’. 

Nitin Seth, CEO, New Mobility, RIL said, “By 2025, the company plans to put the first 2.5 km to test in Bangaluru and US as well.” He was speaking at the Dassault Systèmes Annual Flagship Event, the 3DExperience Forum India 2022.

He added, “So what we are attempting is another impossible task, can we deliver a cheaper mobility solution? In India constructing a metro costs Rs 360 crore per kilo and it takes two days of digging, and then all the traffic goes back. Can you deliver something to the world in the next two and a half years from now??

The lower cost factor involved in developing a Sky transport system and simple construction process allows for many more lines in conventional public transport systems, which in turn allows for greater capacity per mile skyTran is 1/10 the cost of light rail, Seth further added.

The Reliance group is betting high on skyTran’s potential to achieve high-speed intra and inter-city connectivity and promote the highly efficient and economical ‘Transportation-As-A Service’ platform for India and the rest of the world.

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