National Urban Transport Policy

There is an urgent need to conserve energy and land, control pollution and ‘greenhouse gas emissions’, and to alleviate poverty. Urban transport (UT) is a significant cause and also a solution to these issues. Hence planning and management of UT services and infrastructure require immediate attention. The growth story of India shall be written on the canvass of planned urban development and scripted with the instrument of planned urban mobility solutions.

All categories of road users are facing problems in commuting. The pedestrians do not get a safe, conflict-free and obstruction free path to walk. The cyclists have to fight for the right of way with fast moving motorized modes of transport, many a times risking their lives. The users of Public Transport (PT) face long waiting periods, uncertainty in travel time and difficult conditions of travel. The movement of personal motorized modes of transport is slowed down by the slow moving passenger and goods traffic and face significant delays at traffic signals and road junctions. Road users get restless leading to road rage, rash driving and accidents.

The ongoing urbanization will make the situation worse in the ‘business as usual’ scenario. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a Delhi-based non-governmental organization (NGO), has forecast that India’s commercial energy demand and emissions will increase by about six to seven times by 2031-32 under ‘business as usual scenario’1 (if nothing is done to curb the emissions) from the levels in 2011. A committee setup by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on road safety and traffic management (February, 2007) has estimated about 50% increase in road accidents over a 10 year period (2005-15).

Transport sector is the second largest consumer of energy in India. The growth of transport not only increases pressure on the limited non-renewable energy resources and increase in foreign exchange outgo but also considerably increases environmental pollution. Increasing car dependence in India especially in the urban areas is most visible at the local level – vehicular emissions causing air pollution, noise pollution, and corresponding health effects. Increasing energy consumption, operational pollution, land intrusion and congestion are some of the areas of concern. Therefore the policy aims at increasing the use of green energy sources, energy efficiency and environmental protection.


 To recognize that people occupy center-stage in our cities and all plans would be for their common benefit and well-being. 

 To make our cities the most livable in the world and enable them to become the “engines of economic growth” that power India’s development in the 21st century. 

 To allow our cities to evolve into an urban form that is best suited for the unique geography of their locations and is best placed to support the main social and economic activities that take place in the city. 

 To encourage growth of urban transport along low carbon path.


The objective of this policy is to plan for the people rather than vehicles by providing sustainable mobility and accessibility to all citizens to jobs, education, social services and recreation at affordable cost and within reasonable time. This will involve: 

 Incorporating urban transportation as an important parameter at the urban planning stage rather than being a consequential requirement. 

 Bringing about a more equitable allocation of road space with people, rather than vehicles, as its main focus 

 PT should be citywide, safe, seamless, user friendly, reliable and should provide good ambience with well-behaved drivers and conductors.  Walk and cycle should become safe modes of UT. 

 Introducing Intelligent Transport Systems for traffic management

 Addressing concerns of road safety and trauma response 

 Raising finances, through innovative mechanisms 

 Establishing institutional mechanisms for enhanced coordination in the planning and management of transport systems. 

 Building capacity (institutional and manpower) to plan for sustainable urban transport and establishing knowledge management system that would service the needs of all urban transport professionals, such as planners, researchers, teachers, students, etc.

Thus, a paradigm shift is needed in approach to UT with three key strategies, namely, ‘Avoid, Shift and Improve’ in transport planning as advocated by the Asian Development Bank in its draft ‘Action Plan to Make Transport in Developing Countries more ClimateFriendly’ and reiterated by the Bellagio Declaration 8 in May 2009. This means ‘avoid’ increase in demand for travel both by reducing the number and length of trips. Promote a shift from personal vehicles to other MRT and non-motorized transport (NMT) modes to reduce energy demand and hence pollution in cities. Improve strategy includes use of clean fuels and clean vehicle technology

Cities in India vary considerably in terms of their population, area, urban form, topography, economic activities, income levels, growth constraints, etc. Accordingly, UT planning will have to depend on these city specific features. Further, transport planning is intrinsically linked to land use planning and both need to be developed together in a manner that serves the entire population and yet minimizes travel needs. In short, an integrated master plan needs to internalize the features of sustainable UT. In developing such plans, attention should be paid to channel the future growth of a city around a pre- planned UT network rather than develop UT after uncontrolled sprawl has taken place. Planning should, therefore, enable a city to take an urban form that best suits the geographical constraints of its location and also one that best supports the key social and economic activities of its

residents. 7.1.2. The Government of India would, therefore, promote the development of such integrated land use and transport plans for all cities. To enable this, all urban development and planning bodies in the States would be required to have in house transport planners as well as representation from transport authorities in their management. In order to create models for possible learning and replication, the Government of India would fully support pilot studies in a few sample cities of different characteristics and in different regions of the country. As part of this exercise, each city would also be encouraged to identify potential corridors for future development and then establish UT that would encourage growth around itself. For example, radial corridors emerging from the city and extending up to 20-30 km could be reserved for future development. Such corridors would have to be protected from encroachment by putting up physical barriers and physically constructing roads on short stretches even before settlements come up. This would imply that stretches of the corridor would come up first in order to guide the location of the settlements and not allow undue sprawl to take place. 

Planning should include both the city and the peri-urban areas and the regions around the city, which for legal purpose should be notified as local planning or metropolitan area. Compact cities, redevelopment of inner city areas, mixed land use pattern, etc. are some of the urban growth policies that will restrict transport demand. 

Conventional planning approach aims at flow of motor vehicle traffic. The most comprehensive definition of UT planning is ‘Accessibility’, the ability to reach desired goods, services and activities. It recognizes the value of more accessible land use patterns and mobility substitutes such as tele-commuting and delivery services as ways to improve UT while reducing total physical travel. 

Further, construction, use, operation and maintenance of UT infrastructure can have significant implications on natural environment, its habitants, and the functioning of hydrological systems. Therefore, environmental3 and social impact assessment4 of a UT project should be carried out while planning to ensure that no harm will come to the environment and the habitat on a short or long-term basis.

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