Mental stress, coupled with health and safety hazards, has become an everyday reality for urban dwellers. The tension of driving in severe congestion, breathing polluted air, and negotiating the increasing risk of road accidents has taken a toll on their well being.
In the face of these problems, public policies around the world are emphasising a shift from the use of personal motor vehicles to the use of public transport. India’s National Urban Transport Policy of 2006, China’s State Council Office Directive 64 of December 2012, South Africa’s Public Transport Strategy, 2007, and Colombia’s National Urban Transport Program 2003, are some examples of public policies and programmes that encourage investment in public transport rather than in road widening. The rationale is that, on a per person basis, public transport occupies less road space and consumes less fuel compared to personal motor vehicles, thereby emitting lesser pollutants.
However, for such a shift to take place, public transport systems must offer some of the conveniences that a personal motor vehicle offers. Therefore, the question that arises is whether public transport systems, as they exist in India today, are good enough to persuade personal motor vehicle users to make shift to public transport? If not, what can be done to drive this shift? This article seeks to answer these questions.