India Economic Summit 2009

  • Transforming Urban Transportation: How Will It Be Done?

    Tuesday 10th November 2009 - 10:30am - 11:45am

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  • Transforming Urban Transportation: How Will It Be Done?

    Only 25 of India's 88 cities with populations over half a million have formal public transport systems, despite 45% of India's urban population using public transport.

    How can the government promote innovative business models for viable, inclusive transit systems? What technological solutions and new financial mechanisms would be useful in managing private motorization demand, resolving infrastructure deficiencies, and promoting integrated land use and transport planning?

    Key Points

    • 40-50 fast-growing urban centres need urgent transportation planning
    • Planners have failed to provide adequate, integrated infrastructure in many cities
    • Cars cannot remain the preferred form of daily transport


    About 40-50 urban centres in India are rapidly expanding to house up to 5 million people. These cities offer good opportunities to develop infrastructure before facing problems associated with major cities, such as congestion, poor air quality, a rising number of accidents and growing consumption of imported fuel.

    Planners have failed to provide adequate, integrated, timely infrastructure that is well-suited to meet the needs of Indian cities. Common sense solutions – such as shoulders and drains on highways and flyovers to help motorists weather the Indian monsoon – have been ignored. Primary mass transit systems, such as metros, need to be supplemented by feeders, interchanges and parking lots to ensure connectivity and convenience of use.

    Congestion is a major problem in most cities. There are several ways to reduce the problem – reduce demand for transport by making neighbourhoods self-sufficient, make public transport more attractive and optimize traffic flow through technology. Congestion charges may not be politically feasible in India. The solution is to make public transport an attractive alternative.

    As elsewhere in the world, public transport in India has to be subsidized. It must be multi-modal, supplementing mass transit with a range of last-mile connectivity alternatives such as cars, two-wheelers, bicycles, rickshaws, three-wheelers, buses and taxis.

    Despite strong value and attachment placed on car ownership, cars cannot remain the nucleus of public transport. There will be some inconvenient pay-offs – most often, the few at the top will have to sacrifice for the many at the bottom so everyone can benefit.

    Public policy is key and, backed by an entrepreneurial spirit, the problem can be solved. The government must focus in on the correct policy mix and make modalities clear so the private sector can invest and bring in the technology and know-how. There is also a need to improve user behaviour, whether through education or disciplinary action. Private companies and users can also help, for instance, by staggering office hours or through carpools.
    Discussion Leaders

    Om Prakash Agarwal

    , Managing Director, Urban Mass Transit Company, India

    Carlos Ghosn

    , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault, France; President and Chief Executive Officer, Nissan, Japan; Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; Co-Chair of the India Economic Summit

    Siddhartha Lal,

    Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Eicher Motors, India; Young Global Leader

    Wolfgang Lehmacher,

    Chief Executive Officer, GeoPost Intercontinental, France

    Kanesan Velupillai,

    President, SCOMI International, Malaysia

    Chaired by

    Vikram Chandra,

    Chief Presenter and Editor, NDTV, India

    This summary was prepared by Madhur Singh. The views expressed are those of certain participants in the discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participants or of the World Economic Forum.

    Copyright 2009 World Economic Forum
    No part of this material may be copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or redistributed without the prior written consent of the World Economic Forum.

    Tuesday 10 November

    Keywords: infrastructure, cars, transportation, urban, cities

    Recommended reading for: city planners, automobile sector, policy analysts, governments


  • Carlos Ghosn Carlos Ghosn
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault-Nissan Alliance, France

    Has worked on four continents and speaks five languages. Currently, Chairman and CEO, Renault-Nissan...

  • Siddhartha Lal Siddhartha Lal
    Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Eicher Motors, India

    1991, The Doon School; 1994, BA (Hons) in Economics, St Stephen's College; 1997, PGD in Mechanical E...

  • Wolfgang Lehmacher Wolfgang Lehmacher
    Partner and Managing Director, Greater China and India, Corporate Value Associates (CVA), Hong Kong SAR

    1980, with German Red Cross and subsequently with international logistics solutions providers, such ...

  • Kanesan Veluppillai Kanesan Veluppillai
    Senior Vice-President, Special Projects Division, SCOMI Group, Malaysia

    Former: Senior Manager, Marketing, Credit Corporation; Group Communications Director, Master-Carriag...

  • Om Prakash Agarwal Om Prakash Agarwal
    Managing Director, Urban Mass Transit Company, India

    Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering; Master's in Transport. Over 28 years with Indian Administrativ...

Chaired by

  • Vikramaditya Chandra Vikramaditya Chandra
    Presenter and Editor, NDTV, India

    1988, BA in Economics, St Stephen's College, Delhi University; 1991, MA in Politics and Economics, U...