By Ritwik Sinha
Published on: Apr 7, 2018
With public transport coming up as the biggest challenge to solve to truly attack congestion and pollution in big cities, WRI India has taken the initiative to launch a better bus challenge. WRI India is the Indian wing of the US- headquartered Ross Center for Sustainable Cities which works in six countries to improve urban mobility. . The ‘Better bus challenge’ programme seeks to to encourage and nurture bright ideas for giving a facelift to public bus system in India. The programme aims to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of the public bus system in the country and it will have a major focus on CO2 emission reduction issue while backing an innovative idea. The open innovation challenge will bring together ideas from manufacturers, technology and service providers, mobility entrepreneurs, NGOs, corporations, and transit agencies to co-create solutions in the public bus sector. The challenge could thrown up some interesting solutions hopefully, particularly for the extremely high cost of electric buses that is a major stumbling block to higher electric vehicle adoption in the public transport space.
“ We have successfully run a similar programme in Mexico. And here looking at solutions pertaining to reduction in Co2 emission by buses used for public transportation is a major consideration. Controlling Co2 emission in our cities does not solely mean introducing new age environment friendly vehicles. It can also be pursued by improving the maintenance of vehicles and it is such ideas that we tend to encourage,” Dr OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India told Iamrenew. The ‘Better Bus Challenge’ will offer the top three solutions a financial award of US$ 50,000 or Rs 32,00,000 each. The cash reward will be supplemented with a year-long mentorship to collaborate with transit agencies to design and implement solutions which cater to the needs of cities.
According to WRI India, the role of buses (state-run or those by private operators) is increasingly becoming more important as improvement in public transport system is considered as a panacea to deal with the growing congestion in Indian cities. Presently, about 70 million people are travelling in buses in the country every day and this number is bound to go up. Hence, an emphasis in improving their service quality which also includes environment friendly mode of operations has become more imperative than ever before. “By 2021, it is estimated that India will need around 650,000 buses to cater to its transit needs. There is a need for decision- makers to broaden their perspective of urban transportation beyond traditional models to identify and implement strategies to meet this ever-growing demand in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner,” he added.
This unique initiative of WRI India is supported by global express transportation giant Fed Ex Express as part of its global CSR drive- FedEx Cares- under which the
company has committed to invest $200 million in more than 200 communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver positive change around the world.
Our View: The Better Bus Challenge is welcome, though it only underlines how woefully poor efforts so far have been in this space by official organisations. Caught in a logjam of conflicting interests, be it the auto lobby, poor infrastructure, inadequate appreciation of the issues, and multiple power centres, public transport needs a massive overhaul in India, and as always, we believe we have already reached the crisis that it takes to get things going here.