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Union Budget 2021 – Urban Mobility Policy announced by Finance Minister in Union Budget 2021

Union Budget 2021 – Urban Mobility Policy announced by Finance Minister in Union Budget 2021


  • GS3 II Economy II Public Finance II Budget

Why in the news?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Union Budget 2021-22, announced green mobility schemes and augmentation of public buses running in various cities across the country.


  • FM announced a Scheme to induct over 20,000 city buses in five lakh plus cities including Hill cities, Union Territories, North East States’ capital cities, and more. The scheme aims to strengthen organized city bus services, improve urban mobility and ease of living.
  • The scheme components include procurement for city operations of all types of new buses with clean fuel (excluding hybrid/ battery -based or electric buses that are already covered under the FAME scheme of the Department of Heavy Industries (DHI)).

Understanding urban mobility:


  • India has traditionally been a transit- and non-motorised transport (NMT)-oriented country, but is now seeing a sharp growth in private vehicle ownership,especially in urban areas.
  • The public transportation systems in most of the cities are not enough and are encouraging the use of private vehicles.
  • The cities have a peak hour travel speed of 15–20 kmph and the heterogeneous traffic makes the condition worse.
  • With inadequate provisions for cycle and footpaths, and high congestion levels, the Indian roads have become practically unusable for cycling and walking.

Urban Mobility Trends in Indian Cities and It’s Implications:

Status of Urban Mobility in India:

  • The cities of this diverse country and its urban population play an important role in the growth of the country.
  • As per the 2011 census, 31.2% of India’s population (377 million) is living in urban areas. We have 50 crore to 70 crore people living in cities. Due to low number of cities the population density is very high in Indian cities.
  • As the UN estimates, these numbers will grow to 40% (590 million) by 2030 and 58% (875 million) by 2050.
  • While only 30% of the total populations live in urban areas, approximately 63% of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is contributed by those urban areas.
  • As of now we depend largely on personalized transport system, even bus services are not there in many cities. Therefore the mobility solutions are one of the prime needs of every city in the country.

Why urban mobility happens?

  • High growth in population:The cities have had a high growth in population due to urbanisation which has lead to a sudden growth in travel demand.
  • Public transit and NMT together constitute the majority of trips, but are slowly being replaced by private vehicles due to lack of proper infrastructure to support these trips.
  • The cost of transit is much lower compared to the cities around the world. But due to the high economic disparity found in Indian cities, even the low cost is not affordable to a high proportion of population in the cities.
  • Two-wheelers also form a major share of trips, especially in the smaller cities of Indore and Lucknow where the transit supply is insufficient.
  • Even though the car ownership in Indian cities is much lower compared to other countries, it is growing at a fast rate. It increased by 23–75 % in the cities. The highest number of cars per 1,000 population is found in Delhi, but the growth has been the highest for Bangalore.

Urban mobility challenges:

  • Traffic Crashes:Fatalities and injuries caused by traffic crashes have become a major public health concern in India.According to official statistics, 114 444 people were killed in road traffic crashes in India in2007 (NCRB, 2007). Traffic fatalities increased by about 5% per year from 1980 to 2000, and since then have increased by about 8% per year for the four years
  • Fuel Consumption and Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions:The transport sector contributes about 20% of CO2 emissions worldwide and about 15% of CO2 emissions in India, and this share has been increasing over time. This is important for India since about 80% of petroleum requirements are dependent on imports.
  • Poor Institutional Framework: Functions of Urban transport system are performed by multiple agencies under the central, state and city governments which lack coordination and makes accountability difficult.
  • Land as a Barrier to development of Transport Infrastructure: High cost of land acquisition and time-consuming processes has been a major hindrance to integrated urban transport infrastructure. For example, land acquisition issues have delayed the East-West metro Corridor Project in Kolkata over years.
  • Human Resource Challenges:Lack of urban transport skills amongst city and state officials is a major challenge in effectively implementing transport projects.

Government Initiatives to address Urban Transport issues:

  • National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy (NUHHP):Indian cities generally have intense mixed land use system and high density, which keep strip lengths even in mega-cities quite short. Typically, the economically weaker section (EWS) of society lives (legally or illegally) very close to work opportunities, thus, contributing significantly to these short trip lengths
  • National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP): The Central Government has formulated the NUTP (2006) with a view to provide affordable,quick, comfortable, reliable and sustainable access for the growing number of city residents to jobs, education, recreation and such other needs.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM):JNNURM was set up by the Government of India, and 63 cities were identified for urban renewal and reforms in phase I. JNNURM requires that all cities prepare a city development plan and all projects that are proposed are in tune with the city development plan.
  • The National Road Safety &Traffic Management Board Bill, 2010:The national government has drafted a bill to provide for the establishment of the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board for the purpose of orderly development, regulation,promotion and optimization of modern and effective road safety and traffic management system and practices in relation to the national highways and improved safety standards in highway design, construction, operation and regulate high standards in production and maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles
  • National Transit Oriented Development Policy, 2017: The policy framework aims to promote living close to mass urban transit corridors like the Metros, monorail and bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors.
  • Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP): The project in partnership with Ministry of Urban Development and UNDP aims to promote environmentally sustainable urban transport in India.
  • Personal Rapid Transit System (PRT): It is a transport mode combining small automated vehicles, known as pods, operating on a network of specially built guideways. In 2017, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had called the expression of interest (EOI) for launching India’s first driverless pod taxi systems on a 70 km stretch from DhaulaKuan in Delhi to Manesar in Haryana
  • National Public Bicycle Scheme (NPBS): In 2011, NPBS was launched to build capacity for the implementation and operation of cycle sharing systems across the country. The first public bicycle sharing (PBS) initiative — TrinTrin was launched in Mysuru.
  • Promotion of Electric Vehicles: Indian Government plans to have an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2030. For promotion of electric vehicles FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (hybrid &) Electric vehicles. Under FAME, the Centre subsidizes the cost of electric buses and has sanctioned 390 buses in 11 cities (as of April 2018).

International Best Practices:

  • Singapore: According to the McKinsey report entitled “Elements of Success: 24 Global Cities’ Urban Transport Systems” (2018), the public transport system in Singapore is the safest and most accessible system in the world.
    • Nearly 80% of trips in Singapore are performed on Public Transport comprising of bus, MRT, LRT, Taxis.
    • Singapore has one of the world’s largest supplies of per capita public transport. A well-planned and robust public transport system coupled with travel demand restriction measures, such as the area licencing system, the vehicle quota system, the price of congestion, etc., has led to a decrease in private car registration and high use of public transport.
    • Singapore has also implemented “Incentives for Singapore’s Commuters,” a mechanism that allows commuters to transfer their travel time to an earlier or later time belt to prevent the peak travel time on trains and thereby prevent overcrowding.
  • Mexico City- Right to Mobility: A new law was passed in Mexico City in 2014 that expressly guarantees the right to mobility and seeks to increase urban mobility through sustainable transport. The law also defined a new hierarchy of mobility, putting pedestrians and cyclists above motorists and giving priority to active transport.

Best Practice in India:

  • Ahmedabad BRTS Corridor:
  • Features that stand out are as followed
    • The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) ran free BRTS for the first three months and then made design changes based on input from commuters.
    • It provides riders with inexpensive Smart Cards.
    • Integrated Transportation Management System (IMTS) which includes Advanced Vehicle Tracking System (AVLS), Fleet Management System (FMS), Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS), Passenger Information System (PIS), Passenger announcement (PA), and Vehicle Scheduling and Dispatching (VSD)
    • CNG Buses
    • Safe and secure BRT bus stops with a standard attractive form for presenting passengers information such as signages, route details and graphics

Way Forward:

  • For every big and small city, we should go for a robust integrated mobility plan and there should be a contribution from various transport sources.
  • Walkability must be primarily taken into account and related to the public transport system. Bus networks should be taken into account since every city is unable to have a metro.
  • Government should encourage entrepreneurship and private initiative for any urban mobility plan.
  • Developing a sustainable transport system is important. It has to be well supported with integrated transport system and non-motorized vehicle.

Mains oriented question:

What is urban mobility? How big cities are impacted due to urban mobility?