2023 was a crucial milestone for us—ITDP completed 25 years of its journey in India! We started the last year by pausing to reflect and back at the previous year, but also going out on a limb to look ahead and envision five things we wanted to see in 2023. Here we are a year later, a year wiser. Maybe we were too ambitious, maybe we didn’t go far enough. But we hope to keep working towards these goals, and we’re in it for the long run. Let’s take stock of progress towards these goals last year:
1 | A renewed and long-term focus on sustainable transport at the national level
In a heartening move, the national government launched the PM E-Bus Sewa Scheme in August to support the rollout of 10,000 electric buses, a huge step towards augmenting public transport systems, especially in Tier-II and Tier-III cities across the country.
As we enter 2024, we also hope to see continued progress from pioneering cities across the country which have been working on initiatives through national programmes like India Cycles4Change, Streets4People, and Transport4All Challenges. We look forward to supporting them in their efforts and hope to see renewed support at the national level for cities to scale up their initiatives.
2 | Legislative support for safe, inclusive, and sustainable urban transport
While we’re yet to see a strong push towards this at the national level, we are heartened by some positive steps at the state level. In July, the Madras High Court ruled that all buses to be procured for the public transport fleet in Tamil Nadu should ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities. We are hopeful to see more work in this crucial area.
We hope to work together with key stakeholders and partners this year to support the development of regulatory reforms required for various aspects of sustainable mobility, by conducting research on existing gaps in regulatory frameworks and developing recommendations.
3 | Cities embracing low emission zones for cleaner air
Many Indian cities are exploring ways to address increasing air pollution, including through restrictions on certain categories of particularly polluting vehicles. Delhi’s Graded Action Response Plan (GRAP) to address pollution includes a ban on BS-III and BS-IV vehicles. Pimpri-Chinchwad became the first city in Maharashtra to implement a GRAP, which included LEZ as a strategy to address severe pollution, in addition to improving public transport and promoting non-motorised transport and EV zones.
ITDP India is working with Pimpri Chinchwad, as well as Pune and Aurangabad to explore strategies for implementing LEZ. We hope to see more cities embrace solutions for cleaner air in cities.
4 | Incentives for a private sector transition to electric buses
We’re yet to see significant improvements in this area, but there have been some steps in the right direction. At the national level, the Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) is in discussions with NITI Aayog on the support they need for the sector to shift to e-buses. At the state level, Tamil Nadu launched a revised EV Policy in February, which included an opportunity to explore the provision of charging infrastructure as a service for private operators and avenues to encourage a faster transition to EVs for staff buses.
Along with CEEW and SGArchitects, ITDP India organised a consultation along with Guidance, Industries Department to bring together various private sector stakeholders—bus operators, OEMs, charging infrastructure providers, and financial institutions—to provide inputs for the policy revision. ITDP India also developed a roadmap for private sector bus electrification in Tamil Nadu, identifying key barriers to electrification, with recommendations for key supply and demand-side measures required.
In 2024, we look forward to working with BOCI at the national level. Apart from our work for private sector electrification, ITDP India will also support Tamil Nadu in implementing the state EV Policy to accelerate electrification including through regulatory reforms. To ensure a comprehensive approach to electrification in the state, we are also developing guidance for integrating charging infrastructure with parking facilities.
5 | Geospatial data leveraged for urban transformation
We have seen a growing interest in this area. The National Institute of Urban Affairs hosted the National Urban Conclave in October, with multiple sessions focused on initiatives, dashboards, and platforms to leverage data. While geospatial data is one part of the puzzle, we also identified opportunities to leverage other quantitative and qualitative data to improve decision-making. We analysed state and city-level budgets to assess the budget allocation for sustainable transport initiatives and also assessed the impact of street design projects.
We’re seeing increasing support for data-based decision-making, and we look forward to working with various stakeholders at the city and state level to strengthen these processes.
While these are some signs of progress in the right direction in these five important areas, this is not all that happened last year. With multiple city-level wins, publications, events, training workshops, and partnerships, 2023 has been a fulfilling year! Check out this photo-story of five highlights from 2023. We look forward to seeing where 2024 takes us!
Written by Keshav Suryanarayanan