Better Bus Systems & Car-free Days Improve Life in India’s Cities
WRI initiated major bus reforms to improve public transportation in Bangalore, Karnataka, Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Surat and held car-free events in five Indian cities. During these "Raahgiri Days," cities closed streets to motorized vehicles for several hours to encourage walking, cycling and outdoor recreation, showing citizens that streets are for pedestrians and cyclists, not just cars.
With India’s urban population expected to grow to 590 million by 2030 and personal vehicle use on the rise, other forms of transportation suffer. Buses, India’s main public transit option, use outdated and inefficient systems, resulting in long commutes. Roads are unsafe: Pedestrians and bicyclists account for as much as 60 percent of road deaths in Indian cities. More personal motor vehicles cause traffic congestion and air pollution. Indian cities need improved transportation alternatives to decrease motorization and improve the urban quality of life.
WRI initiated major bus reforms to improve public transportation in four Indian cities. In Bangalore, WRI helped put in place a modern bus route system, a reform Indian cities had tried to implement for 20 years. WRI also aided in introducing city buses in seven cities in Karnataka. In 2013, WRI worked with transportation agencies in Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Surat to launch India’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, where a lane is dedicated to buses, letting them travel faster. This year, WRI collaborated with the cities’ transport agencies to help design and train the operators to run 53 additional kilometers of BRT.
To make cities more walkable and bikeable, WRI held car-free events in five Indian cities, including Delhi and Navi Mumbai. For these events, called Raahgiri Days, cities closed streets to motorized vehicles for several hours to encourage walking, cycling and outdoor recreation, showing urban residents that city streets are for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as for cars.
Better bus systems and the Raahgiri movement have made life better for Indian city dwellers. Bangalore’s new bus network reduced travel times and improved public transport for approximately 150,000 passengers daily. Since implementing BRTs in three Indian cities, fatal accidents have decreased by 50 percent around BRT corridors, particulate air pollution has decreased by 20 percent, and a quarter of motor vehicle users have switched to public transportation. The Raahgiri phenomenon has changed how people perceive cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Indian cities. .