Indian Urban Mobility, different stages of development – Delhi

Date: 26 Feb 2016
Cat: India

A testimony of Somendra Gautham, a Delhi Citizen.

India has the size of a continent and each city has its own urban transport system with heterogeneous development stage. As a capital city, Delhi has worked a lot in setting up a more organized and modern urban transport system by increasing its fleet of buses and introducing the first metro line in India. However, still some improvements have to be implemented in order to ease the daily life of Delhites.


Somendra Gautam (Manager-Business Development (Defence & Aerospace) at Centrum Defence Systems Limited, New Delhi Area, India) has kindly shared with us his own view of the transport system and some suggestions to improve it.

What do you think about Urban mobility in India, focus on Delhi?

“As an overall, urban mobility in India is improving by the time.”

A new fleet of buses

Sports event as the CWG (Common Wealth Games)* in Delhi in 2010 can lead to improvement in term of Urban Transport. “Indeed, before 2010, Delhi used to have old buses transport fleet”.

The CWG funding has allowed Delhi to invest “in transport like buses low floor purchased with Air Conditionning/Non Air Conditionning. Globally, it has made travelling more comfortable”.

For European bus users, it doesn’t look so impactful. However, the temperature can easily reach 48 degree during summer in Delhi!

Bus Low Floor Delhi

Introduction of the metro in India: first one in Delhi 2010 … 

 “Delhi Metro completion (first phase) before 2010 has made history!”

Indeed Delhi Metro was the first to be introduced in India. Since then, a few other cities have implemented the metro: Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kochi. Now, the network has been increased across Delhi and National Capital Region areas. the metro carries the majority of commuters in Delhi with an ease of travelling, convenience and low carbon emission.


… along with innovations to support Last Miles Connectivity (LMC).

“Moreover, Delhi has worked in improving the last mile connectivity from Metro station and key bus depots. Finally, a new LMC component has appeared: the e-rickshaw. These new rickshaws are on battery, helping in reaching colony from the metro.”

They are slowly replacing bikes rickshaw. They can handle up to 4 people vs. 2 for bikes rickshaw; have no CO2 emission and fares is half the one of a regular rickshaw.

E Rickshaw - Pollution free battery operated rickshaw near India Gate area.

Photo by K Asifa 27/07/2012

As a conclusion, even if the urban mobility is improving day and day: the urban transportation needs a renovation and increase in efficiency.”

What are the main challenges that India are facing with regards to Urban Mobility?

graph delhi

The population of Delhi has increased by 10% between 2010 and 2015. Today, there are almost 18 million Delhians. According to demographic research, Delhi’s population is projected to reach more than 36 million by 2050.

The main challenge that India is facing in Delhi as in other cities is: the increase in urban population. Resources are becoming more and more limited. Indeed, more persons are travelling in buses making it very uncomfortable.”

The second challenge that India is facing is the planning. It is very difficult to get clear inputs about the availability and frequency of services of public transport, especially buses”.


Delhi metro station

Metro station delhi

For metro, it is easier as per the picture on top. However, it is written indication which means that the traveler needs to be able to read. According to the economic times of India 2015, “literacy rate in urban area is 86%”.

Delhi bus station


For buses, there is no indication at the bus station to let the traveler know about the next bus coming. It is difficult for traveler to plan their trips.

What are your suggestions of improvements?

A topic closely related to Government strategy!

Urban transport project are always involving government organization as it is a public service for citizens. It is the same in India. Therefore, in order to improve the Indians one: “government spending, right policy and planning and its implementation are very much required.

Moreover it could be interesting that the Transport Corporation & department work hand in hand with other countries. Therefore it could benefit from the worldwide best practices”.

India has already started to work on this issue by setting up the JNNRUM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) program (which became AMRUT program). This program is covering different area to support urban development (water, energy…) with a special focus on Urban Transport. “Moreover, in June 2015, Prime Minister Modi’s Government has launched a new promising program: Smart City which will lead to smart urban development. However to be very effective Central and State government should work closely to allow better implementation”.


Fast implementation of basic infrastructure

As a young country and with a tremendous rate of urbanization and growth, India is running to catch-up with its needs of infrastructure. Time is the key here: Work on basic infrastructure…To travel roads, bridges, flyovers, tracks are needed to be built at faster speed…”

Of course, “planning and implementing best practices” is also important but first, “India has to think about the basics”.

Delhi is working hardly and needs to speed-up to win the race of covering every infrastructure lack to allow its population to live, work, and move easily.