The stakeholders - technical experts like planners, engineers and architects, social scientists, citizens, politicians, activists, advocacy professionals and all involved government authorities - need to collectively work toward sustainable transport solutions.
Integrated land-use and transport planning involves aligning transport infrastructure and services with land uses in ways that reduce private vehicle kilometers travelled and auto dependency, increases mass transit usage and supports freight logistics. It looks at co-locating compatible land uses and higher densities in accessible locations and prioritising resourcing for public transportation and makes this pivotal to spatial planning and design at all physical scales (Planning Institute Australia, 2008).
Integrated land-use and transport planning can assist in delivering a sustainable city by providing equitable and accessible urban transport and lower greenhouse gas production. Achieving a travel-mode shift away from single-occupant auto dependency and reducing the need to travel requires a shift to more intensive and mixed-use land uses that are physically accessible to local services, social facilities, shops, jobs and other metropolitan locations via walking, cycling and mass transit. A plan of seamless travel developed at the metropolitan scale that provides policy direction to local authorities is required.
The solutions need to be at three levels, namely, macro, meso and micro. Macro solutions may include an MRTS that connects the city to the neighbouring urban areas, such as the existing MRTS corridor between Gurgaon and Delhi and the proposed Regional Rail Transit System corridor between Delhi-Gurgaon and Alwar, in the neighboring state of Rajasthan. Meso-level solutions pertain to the transport systems currently existing within a city, such as the approximately 12 km Rapid Metro System. These intra-city rail corridors should efficiently link the work areas with the residential zones. Lastly, at micro-level, solutions with respect to walkability and cycling need to be introduced not just in the TOD zone but all across the city. The walkable zone need to be integrated with the green belts of the city.
Geospatial intelligent systems
In addition to these, geospatial intelligent transportation systems (GITS) need to be the basis of modern transport solutions. GITS is that aspect of a transport system that deals with the application of information and communication technologies in a geospatial context, and comprises hardware including sensors, geospatial technology and data. ITS can help in implementing policy measures effectively which can lead to sustainability. Sustainable development can be achieved through systems which remain efficient over a period of time and over space. Sustainability cannot be achieved without an efficient road, NMT and public transportation system. Unless there is a balance between the road, NMT and public transportation systems of a city, none of these will function efficiently in the long run. ITS as such cannot create sustainability, but it helps to improve traffic safety and relieve congestion, among other things, which can ultimately lead to a sustainable transportation system by reducing congestion anf air pollution and increasing energy efficiency.
Data has been a basis of decision-making historically, whether it existed as maps on cloth or in the present day in an internet cloud. All transport data along with planning content need to be a subset of the city’s spatial data infrastructure (SDI). It needs to be iterated that the SDI is a modern-day infrastructure just like traditional hard infrastructure. As in the case of water supply, sewerage, roads, to name a few examples of traditional infrastructure, SDI too needs to be maintained and upgraded/updated, be it in terms of its hardware, software, work processes or data.
Institutional integration is pertinent to the success of sustainability. It is essential that all modes of transportation, related infrastructure and respective hierarchical levels are managed by a unified transport authority with effective operational control over funding, which is rationally allocated to promote sustainable mode outcomes and based spatially on land-use considerations. In the case of Gurgaon, such an authority needs to be at metropolitan level, which looks at the region and its surrounding influence areas in a holistic manner. This will override the confusion caused due to multiple government authorities with overlapping functions and clashes of jurisdiction between existing smaller municipal authorities, village panchayats, Gurgaon Municipal Corporation, other parastatal agencies and town and country planning authorities. Institutional integration can be possible either by creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle with overarching control over the area and existing authorities. An alternative and better solution is to empower, enhance and strengthen the capacity of existing authorities.