If implemented properly, shared mobility will prove to be a boon for India's roads, people and the environment.
The Centre is mulling over a slew of sops and disincentives to encourage shared mobility. As per The Economic Times, a fee for street congestion, shutting certain roads for private vehicles on fixed days of the week and allowing drivers offering rides to passengers to charge for this are a few such steps that are under consideration. Given transport is a state subject, the Centre will only recommend the procedural frameworks for states to carry out this vision.
The NITI Aayog is in consultation with states on this already. An effective and sustainable transportation system has the potential to reduce the country’s dependence on oil imports, generate millions of new jobs and provide Indians with access to opportunities they now lack. Shared mobility, which is key to sustainable transport, will also tap into the unutilised capacity—imagine the gains from putting to use the hundreds of cars sitting idle for most of the day or ferrying around just one rider when they can accommodate five or even more, and drivers waiting around for long hours without actually driving anyone around.
A recent study by NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute estimates that the country can save up to 64% of anticipated energy needs for road-based passenger transport and 37% of carbon emissions by 2030, if it develops a shared, connected, electric-powered mobility system. As underscored by the same NITI Aayog report, even as rapid urbanisation has increased car ownership, a great majority of Indians still rely on non-motorised travel and public transportation. This simplifies the task of modernising the transport sector in India, as less investment is tied up in soon-to-be-outmoded systems.
However, appropriate regulation, governance and infrastructure is needed to supplement such measures. Without quality roads and a strong public transport system—think metro, buses and railways—sustainable mobility will remain a pipedream. Also, the implementation and regulation of the fees to be charged by drivers of these shared vehicles will need to be carefully looked at. With regulated implementation, this measure can serve India’s roads, citizens and the environment quite efficiently.