Clean Mobility for All

Adopting a demand management approach to integrate and optimize Mumbai’s transport sector

Mumbai is drafting a Climate Action Plan, led by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change, Government of Maharashtra, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The MCAP will serve as a systematic framework to measure impacts and guide the city towards low-carbon, resilient and inclusive development pathways. WRI India has been engaged as a knowledge partner for this endeavor.

The Plan will focus on six key action areas to build sector-specific strategies for mitigation and adaptation. This blog looks at the ‘Sustainable Mobility’ action area.

Mumbai is hailed as the economic capital of India. The presence of high-service industries and corporate headquarters attracts millions of jobs, and therefore people travelling to work over long distances across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. This travel relies heavily on public transport, particularly the suburban railways and through metro line 1. Most people walk to station areas, or use feeder bus routes, taxis or auto-rickshaws to get to stations areas.

Figure 1 Motorized mode split (CMP, 2016)

The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) is expanding the Metro network, which is expected to increase to 312 km by 2031[1]. In 2019 the metro had an average ridership of 3.7 lakh trips per day and is expected to rise many folds upon network completion. MMRDA will also commission Multi Modal Integration (MMI) plans to enhance last mile connectivity within 500 meters of station areas. Further, leveraging IT solutions to optimise services and increase reliability will result in increased ridership.

[1] Primary data from MMRDA (2021)

Mumbai’s rich public transport ridership is the reason emissions in the transport sector are lower than those of other cities. However, an increasing trend towards car ownership and ridership, have resulted in Mumbai being the second most congested city in the world in 2020. Besides congestion, private vehicle usage also contributes to GHG emissions, road fatalities, and air pollution. Although walking constitutes 46% of total trips in the city, 58% of fatalities are pedestrians. With a motorized mode share of 55% (Figure 1), on-road transport contributes to 80% of total transport emissions in the city (Figure 2).

Figure 2 GHG emissions from Mumbai’s transport sector

As per current trends: of income and aspiration growth, Mumbai’s transport emissions are expected to rise by 2030, and if aggressive mitigation measures aren’t adopted this trend is estimated to rise exponentially by 2050. This will lead to significant health impacts from air pollution, road safety and poor quality of life due to prolonged travel times. Four strategies can steer Mumbai’s sustainable mobility transition: Integrate, Manage, Optimise and Clean.

Integrate

With five modes of public transport and nearly 20 stakeholders spanning local, state and national levels as well as private players, trip integration and seamless trip chains become crucial in Mumbai. This includes i) seamless integration across modes (within transit systems) and with feeder networks; ii) operational integration, involving route rationalization; iii) land use and transport integration through effective TOD strategies; iv) fare integration; and v) institutional integration at the policy making and coordination stages.

Manage

Car ownership is on the rise in Mumbai and so is parking demand. While off-street parking solutions are being planned and implemented in the city, on-street parking continues to be a challenge in dense, older areas of the city with poor parking availability off-street. On-street parking of private vehicles, taxis and autos, freight and institutional vehicles has resulted in streets that are uncomfortable and unsightly to walk on, and unsafe after dark. Effective transport demand management measures including a robust parking policy with effective off-street parking management guidelines and parking levies to disincentivize private transport will result in increased safety, better access and lower congestion.

Optimize

Limited information availability for commuters has been a big factor for suboptimal public transport usage. Optimizing routes and augmenting information systems to disseminate both transit and traffic information will result in increased ridership and quality of life of commuters. Transit information will cover Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA), real-time status of transit, transit routes, etc. This will help in increasing the reliability and accessibility of public transport and lead to increased modal shares.

Clean

As per Maharashtra’s EV policy, cities must aim for 25% electrification of public transport and last-mile urban fleets by 2025. There is a potential to shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) based on the current positive upward trend in the purchase of e-vehicles, which rose from 46 to 672 between 2017-18 to 2019-20. The city can incentivize private freight players to shift towards EVs through tax exemptions, subsidies, low-carbon freight zones and supporting policies. Charging infrastructure can be increased at instituting charging stations at every bus depot, in streetlights and utility poles located in urban areas, particularly near multi-unit dwelling and central business districts and shopping malls. The state EV policy also mandates Mumbai set up 1,500 charging stations by 2025.

As one of India’s five mega cities, Mumbai’s GDP may overshoot that of Thailand and Hong Kong by 2030. With development and the demand for mobility going hand-in-hand, energy use and emissions from transport are likely to exacerbate with rising per capita income. Recognizing the implications of climate on the transport sector is crucial to ensure that that the city’s rapid economic and population growth takes a low-carbon, people-focused pathway.

This blog is written by Mehul Patel and Ramya MA.

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