The Consultative Group on Future Transportation (CGFT) at the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser(PSA) addresses how technology and data-science may be effectively leveraged in harmony with policies to transform India’s mobility architecture..
The consultative group in its first meeting on February 15, 2019 set the direction for moving towards sustainable and inclusive transportation by leveraging Research & Development (R&D), evidence-based decision-making, and demonstration projects. The group echoed the need to place mobility (of both people and goods) at the centre of planning while encouraging modal innovations, adoption of a combination of future-relevant and India-relevant technologies, and harnessingdynamic datato effectively link the different elements of the transportation system.The resulting framework can be expected to lead to more accessible, affordable and safer mobility and advance the platform of Make in India.
The Group identified a number of platforms that could serve as the springboard for this transformation including:
- Investment in Smart Cities and their infrastructure
- Migration to cleaner propulsion including electrification of mobility
- Emphasis on investment in roads, metro-rail, faster long-distance railway, et
The group deliberated on multiple opportunity areas, foremost being the necessity to treat transportation as an integrated system rather than disparate group of modes. They underscored the need to foster more efficient and more sustainable multi-modal mobility through better transportation connectivity achieved via a combination of appropriate physical infrastructure and digital technologies.Towards these objectives, as one example, the Indian Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) initiated in December 2018 by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to facilitate easy and efficient exchange of data among Smart City componentscould be enhanced to drive significantly better integration of transportation and urban planning.
A holistic approach to transportation will also help optimise the performance at the system level while addressing the trade-offs between individual interventions. This will help deliver the commensurate return on transportation system investments often seen lacking when individual models are operated and evaluated in isolation. A case in point is the low ridership witnessed in some Metro train systems due to lack of system integration. It will also bring focus on the vital role for non-motorized modes such as walking and cycling while allocating land for transportation.
The group also underscored the need to better understand travel behaviour, which is under constant flux with rapid urbanisation, internet-enabled commerce, and options for ride-hailing and shared mobility, among others. This understanding can be used to drive modal shift by passengers through soft incentives such as off-peak work schedules, paid-workplace parking, etc. and hard incentives such as congestion and public-parking charges.
The need for a safe-space to pilot and demonstrate technologies and innovative operating models that have the potential to reduce congestion, improve road safety and air quality, and encourage non-motorized and public transportation was agreed upon. The learnings could be converted to a workbook with best-practices for other areas to adopt.
The group also reviewed the transportation technologies and business models shaping the transportation sector globally such as electrification, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Mobility as a Service (MaaS), hydrogen vehicles, etc. and recommended the need for an objective assessment to prioritise options for R&D investments. The value of R&D investments in both capability and capacity building was well acknowledged. A specific opportunity to rejuvenate R&D in Railways to improve asset utilisation and safety through technologies such as digitisation, advanced signalling, and vision based solutions has been identified. The opportunity will be translated into a concrete program and implementation plan over next few weeks.
Besides the initiativesin R&D, planning, and demonstration projects, the group appreciated the need for changes in processes and business models to attract private capital in transportation. This is extremely important considering an already strong domestic manufacturing ecosystem and continued thrust on 'Make in India'. Also, across initiatives, use of data will be critical to realise the outcomes.
Topics discussed are expected to lead toimplementation programsfor short-term, medium-term, and long-term impact through cross-functional collaboration. The Group concurs that Science, Policy and Industry have to work together keeping the citizens at the centre of its efforts.
The Consultative Group has been established by the Government of India to carry forward the initiatives on Energy and Transportation. It is chaired by Dr. K VijayRaghavan, PSA to the Government of India. Other members of the group include Dr. V Sumantran, Chairman at Celeris Technology and a well-recognised auto industry leader and author on mobility; Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, CMD at Godrej Boyce and Board Chair at Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and World Resources Institute (WRI); Mr. Prasad Menon, former MD at Tata Power; Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI); Mr. Amit Sharma, MD at Tata Consulting Engineers; Dr. Arabinda Mitra, Scientific Secretary at the office of PSA; Mr. Virendra Kumar, Director General at Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) of Indian Railways; Mr. Abhay Damle, Joint Secretary for Transport at Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH); Mr. P.K. Garg, Executive Director at Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC); Mr. Mukund Kumar Sinha, Officer on Special Duty (Union Territory) & Ex-Officio Joint Secretary at Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA); Mr. Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary for Smart Cities at MoHUA; Dr. Suresh Kumar, Scientist 'F' at the office of PSA (convener), and Mr. Manuj Khurana, CEO at NewMo (special nominee).