As a developing nation, India cannot afford such huge investments and needs to shift from car-dependency to public transport.
By Greg Moran
India’s rapid urbanisation has beleaguered its mobility. Owing to a hike in population and income levels, India now demands 8X more transportation facilities than compared to 1980, as per World Bank database. However, high demand poses more significant threats to the nation’s infrastructure, which hasn’t observed a similar growth rate. Let us explore the predicaments and opportunities in India’s urban mobility landscape.
India grapples with a host of mobility-related challenges like pollution and traffic congestion. As per a WHO study, 14 out of top-15 most-polluted cities in the world are in India. Rising pollution levels also translate into economic losses. As per current estimates the World Bank, the losses amount to 7.7% of the nation’s GDP. Indian cities are also notoriously famous for traffic congestion. As per industry reports, vehicles in some metros move at an average speed of 17kph. The congestion on the roads doesn’t exist in silos, and its adverse effects are carried forward to productivity and economic growth. As per the BCG-Uber report, the combined estimate of losses caused due to congestion in the top-four metro cities of India is worth more than $22 billion per annum.
The future perspective
For India to unlock the next wave of growth, it is essential to ramp up and optimise mobility services. The focus has to be on promoting green, clean mobility. A chief contributor to the increasing congestion on the roads is private ownership of cars. A BCG-Uber report revealed the asset utilisation of private cars to a mere 5%. These vehicles not only have low asset utilisation, but also take up a lot of space on the roads.
Besides, promoting public transport and shared mobility also has an impact on a nation’s investment in transportation. Let’s take the example of Copenhagen and Houston. While Copenhagen follows a pragmatic mix of public transport and bike lanes, Houston is heavily car-dependent. Consequently, Copenhagen spends about 7% of its GDP on transportation, while the same for Houston is 17%.
As a developing nation, India cannot afford such huge investments and needs to shift from car-dependency to public transport. For this, we need to make shared mobility solutions and public transportation systems easily accessible and safe.
At the same time, electric vehicles are going to be a high priority on the government’s agenda, going forward. Propelled by the EV30@30 scenario, India holds the potential of achieving 25% of market share for EVs. Several automotive players are bolstering indigenous manufacturing of EVs. On the part of the government, favourable policies for manufacturers and promoters of EV will go a long way in pushing the adoption. And shared mobility services are going to play a crucial role in enabling the adoption without the hassles of complete ownership.
In a nutshell, exciting times stay ahead for India’s urban mobility, ones that will be marked with greener and cleaner modes of commute. These mediums will be convenient to access by the public and secure, even for the fringes of the demographic, including women, children and the elderly.
The author is co-founder & CEO, Zoomcar