A lot of emphasis has been put on the burgeoning sizes of Indian cities and their need to prepare their transit system to meet the surging demands. But it’s not just the modes that need to be reconsidered, enough thought must go into the future designs of Indian cities.
Given the circumstances, cities have two options to manage growth. The first option is to allow low density layouts, with increased distances between work and residence. Mostly, a business-as-usual approach which could promote urban sprawl. Whereas, the second option plans for high density layouts with residential, commercial, and other developments within the city. Called the transit-oriented development (TOD) approach, this would enable most citizens to live and work within walking distance of high-quality rapid transit. Urban spaces will be designed to be vibrant, lively places which cater to the needs of people from all ages and income groups.
Indian cities such as Mumbai and Ahmedabad have also undertaken bold, applaudable moves to manage densification. In its Development Plan 2021, Ahmedabad envisions better streets, an improved public realm, and infrastructure upgrades for upcoming residential zones.
Successful and sustained changes on the ground invariably require the backing of well-framed policies. In 2017, the Government of Jharkhand adopted an inclusive TOD policy. This policy focuses on equitable development of cities in the state, so that a majority of the population lives and works in areas with safe and accessible walking and cycling facilities, integrated with reliable and high-quality public transport.
Basically, transit-oriented development looks to ensure our cities are future ready. It is an approach to combat urban sprawl and traffic congestion. Widely recognised by planners and governments worldwide, it looks to tackle congestion through better public transport and land use integration, while improving quality of life for their citizens.