Agencies in the national capital will have to ensure a 1% drop in private vehicular trips every year and increase the use of public and shared transport by the same quantum each year, said the draft Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2041, which was made public for comments on Wednesday, 9th June 2021.
The draft, which will serve as a vision document for the city’s development over the next 20 years, aims to improve the city’s mobility network by making public transport available to residents within walking distance, building strategic road links to decongest the city, disincentivising travel in private vehicles through congestion pricing and dynamic parking charges, and re-imagining the Ring Rail.
Experts who reviewed the draft MPD 2041 said the document correctly addresses the city’s changing transport requirements, even as it leaves some of the basics intact. For instance, shared mobility in the form of app-based taxi and the concept of carpooling have been included in the city planning document for the first time. At the same time, the document also reiterates a long-standing demand for a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMPTA).
The document also requires that agencies draft a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) to integrate all levels and modes of urban transport and move towards low-carbon transit systems.
The Delhi Economic Survey (2019-20) said though the annual growth rate of vehicle sales almost halved to 4.4% for the 2019-20 fiscal, the number of vehicles in the city has more than doubled to 643 per thousand people, from 317 in 2005-06. This increase has also consequently led to a surge in parking demand.
Delhi has more than 10 million registered vehicles, of which 7.3 million are two-wheelers, shows state government data.
State transport minister Kailash Gahlot said MPD 2041 calls for greater coordination and cooperation of all agencies in the city, including the Delhi government, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi Police and the civic bodies.
“It is good to see that the MPD 2041 mentions Delhi’s parking policy, which is one-of-its kind in India, at length and has reiterated that the municipal corporations must expedite formulating their respective area parking management plans. The draft MPD is mostly a wrap of the Delhi government’s flagship transport projects, including the electric vehicle policy, premium bus scheme, real-time public information system for buses and the plan to convert bus depots into multi-level facilities to increase parking space,” he said.
Gahlot added Delhi has more than 6,700 state-run buses, which will increase to around 11,000 buses in the coming years.
“We are also redeveloping all bus terminals, setting up new ones and making transit-oriented development (TOD) nodes at Kashmere Gate, Anand Vihar and Sarai Kale Khan. The RRTS [Regional Rapid Transit System] and the expansion of the Delhi Metro are going to help create some of the biggest multi-modal transport hubs of the country in Delhi,” he said.
The document also recommends corridors that will act as “road links”, or extensions of existing or proposed arterial corridors to improve inter-city connectivity, including the Urban Extension Road 2.
The document notes that buses are the preferred and most accessible public transport system.
“A detailed analysis of Public Transport Accessibility Levels (PTAL) shall be adopted for the city. This shall be operationalised through an expert agency to be updated and notified from time to time. PTAL mapping will help evaluate the public transport outreach and spatially distinguish high-accessibility areas from low. The analysis shall include all shared modes with fixed routes and fixed fares, including contract IPT modes such as Gramin Seva, autorickshaws, maxi cabs, RTVs, etc., apart from buses, metro rail and their feeder services. Based on such an analysis, the entire city can be divided into different grades,” it stated.
The MPD also said the emergence of shared mobility options, complemented by the expansion of the metro network, is gradually changing mobility choices made by commuters from private ownership to shared or public transport-oriented options. It also suggests running special Metro and bus services at night, apart from operating express transport routes.
“Ring Rail, a part of Delhi’s legacy infrastructure, is being used for transporting freight and is presently running at only 50% of its potential passenger ridership. While the Ring Rail plays a significant role in freight transport and keeps almost 20,000 trucks off Delhi’s roads, its role in transporting people needs to be re-imagined,” the document said.
To promote the use of cleaner transport systems, the MPD mandates all new fuel stations to have space for charging infrastructure. “Fuel stations, Metro station parking, railway parking areas, authorised on-street parking or other government-owned parking shall be retrofitted with EV [electric vehicle] charging infrastructure,” it said.
To address the marginal rise in cycling use and make the city more pedestrian-friendly, the document proposes that ‘active travel areas’ be identified around high activity hubs and that “walk plans” be prepared for these areas to improve pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, including cycling highways.
The vision document also lays out a hierarchy of roads to be followed in the city. These include national highways (60-90 metres wide), arterial roads (30-60m), collector roads (12-30m) and local streets (less than 12m). Of the four categories, only local streets have been prescribed to have slow moving traffic (through traffic calming measures), along with pedestrian lanes.
Hubs around Metro stations get a big push in Delhi master plan
Delhi Development Authority’s transit-oriented development (TOD) policy, which focuses on high-density, mixed-use development around transit nodes such as Metro stations, was approved in 2019. The development control norms of TOD have now become part of the draft Master Plan for Delhi 2041. The TOD policy promotes development of compact, walkable, mixed-use developments within influence zones of transit stations, which could be Delhi Metro station or an upcoming Regional Rapid Transit System one. It aims at improving public transit ridership, reducing vehicular congestion and greenhouse emissions and pollution in the long term. “TOD is also an important strategy for unlocking the latent economic potential and land values in the city,” MPD 41 states, adding that it will facilitate development and regeneration of select areas through planned intensification of uses and activities, infusion of new infrastructure and improvement in public realm. This will also allow Delhi to capitalise on the large-scale investments made for public transit infrastructure.
DDA intends to implement the policy strategically in select TOD nodes with high development potential. “This will enable the creation of well-planned growth centres, developed as per sustainability principles, capable of developing into future economic drivers and cultural hubs for the city,” the draft says, adding all transit-oriented development will be designed to ensure denser street networks, better public areas and active public frontages to ensure safer, walkable, cycling-friendly and vibrant areas throughout Delhi. The high FAR and mixed-use that will be allowed will ensure creation of more dwelling units, including those for the economically weaker sections.
The projects are planned to provide highest priority to pedestrians and non-motorised traffic, through various strategies such as traffic management plans, street improvements, creation of a network of pedestrian and non-motorised traffic routes, and restricted and high-priced public parking.