Research Project

Pedestrian Safe Public Transport Systems: Infrastructure, Operations, Vehicles, Policies and Legislation

Geetam Tiwari, Sudipto Mukherjee, Nomesh Bolia, Anoop Chawla, K N Jha; Dinesh Mohan, Sanjeev Sanghi, Puneet Mahajan, Niladari Chatterjee and Kalaga Ramchandra Rao

Project Details


This research developed and tested a ‘walkability to public transport’ survey instrument (based on crowd sourcing data collection) for Delhi in India, and Cape Town in South Africa, and integrate this with existing auditing tools, such as the Indian “Urban Road Safety Audit (URSA)” and “Public Transport Audit” (PTA) toolkits. The project team obtained traffic crash data from Delhi traffic police for seven years (2006-2012) and identified high crash location involving pedestrian fatalities. Bus commuters perceptions regarding safety and security of bus tops, access to bus stops was documented for selected bus stops and the bus stops were audited for safety and security using the public transport audit tool. The results showed weak correlation between commuters’ perception of safety and high crash locations identified using police data. The quality of bus stops in terms of comfort, security, safety varies across the city. The central city has high quality of bus stops, however has poor safety record. Speed of motorised vehicles near bus tops must be included in safety audits.

Government of India announced on April 2015 requiring all new models of cars to conform to the Indian pedestrian safety standard by 1 October 2017 and all models by 1 October 2018. The Indian standard is similar to that proposed by ECE WP29. These announcements obviated the need for discussions regarding the strategy for introducing these safety features in India. However, it is important that we assess the benefits of these features in Indian conditions and the need for improvements. Pedestrian protection technologies of concern have largely been limited to cars. In the Indian context, it is necessary that we focus on future design specification for all motor vehicles.

India has a variety of statutes and policies related to regulation of roads and means of transport. However, in spite of the quantum of legislation, the rights of the pedestrian remain hazy because the motorized road user remains the central object of statutory concern and attention. Pedestrians are a plurality of road users in India, and also constitute a high percentage of traffic fatalities on Indian roads, pedestrians must be pivotal to the formulation of any transport policy in India. The statutory framework must also prioritize pedestrian safety and access. Acknowledging the ambiguity with respect to the rights and duties of the pedestrian in the current statutory and policy framework, a draft Charter of Rights and Duties for Pedestrians has been proposed in this study.

Cities remain hostile for pedestrians and public transport users in India. Even after adopting policies at the national level (NUTP,2006), and the availability of funds through JnNURM( Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission), there seems to be a lack of will to improve infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. The current government’s SMART city mission has mentioned improvement of pedestrian facilities as an important milestone for smart city, however the implementation of these projects have not yet started. Also the lack of understanding of the need of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure has resulted in discontinuity and removal of this infrastructure even at the locations where they have been approved and constructed. In South Africa, availability of NMT infrastructure on desirable routes is very localized and often interrupted by higher order roads and even expressways leading to many captive pedestrians walking along highways or even crossing them. 
This research aims to answer some of the following key questions:
•How to upscale pedestrian accessibility data collection using community based (or crowd sourcing) data collection techniques?
•How to augment the URSA and PTA audit tool data with the crowd source data
•How to generate street improvement recommendations using these data
•Why do city authorities find it difficult to follow the street designs and guidelines which give priority to pedestrians?
•Do cities and states have adequate comprehensive legislation and policies in place to implement pedestrian friendly designs and transport strategies?
•Can city authorities and public transport companies be assisted to identify specific areas for interventions and setup demonstration projects?
•Can automobile industry be engaged to prepare a road map for pedestrian safety standards?
The development and testing of the crowd sourcing survey tool has been a joint activity between TRIPP and ACET. The valorization into an actual road map of the process to improve pedestrian safety, and the development of vehicle standards for pedestrian safety has been limited to Delhi. 
The main objective of the project is to enable public transport (PT) companies to create a safe pedestrian system around public transport. Since the majority of entry and exit trips to public transport are by walking, it is important to ensure safe pedestrian access around PT stops (bus and MRTS). Often public transport companies are not responsible for road infrastructure, therefore PT stop location, environment around PT stop is not mandated to be designed to satisfy pedestrian needs. Laws mandating pedestrian compliant guidelines are either weak or nonexistent. Public transport companies are acquiring new vehicles and include specifications for the type of vehicle required fulfilling safety and fuel efficiency requirements. At present pedestrian safety has not been included in the specifications and the Indian automobile industry is also not prepared to manufacture vehicles satisfying pedestrian safety requirements. Safe vehicles is an important element of a safe public transport system, and a road map for pedestrian safe vehicles would enable a safe public transport system. Therefore the main objectives of this project are:
I.    Develop pedestrian accessibility assessment tools and demonstration projects to assist city authorities and public transport companies to identify priority location for creating safe and comfortable pedestrian access to public transport stops.
II.    Develop road map for pedestrian compliant safety standards for vehicles in consultation with the automobile industry.
III.    Develop city, state and central level legislation to ensure implementation of pedestrian priority designs and traffic management strategies.

1.Walkability indicators can be classified into categories based on whether they are relevant to road/street network, sidewalk/footpath design and amenities, pedestrian crossings and land use characteristics. 
2.Very few studies have included the indicators pertaining to footpath characteristics. This is especially relevant in the Indian context, where despite having dense road networks, and land use mix and intensity, the cities are not walkable due to lack of provision of pedestrian infrastructure, and the poor quality of it where it has been provided.
3.Audit of 360 selected bus stops in Delhi shows that bus stops received a higher score for safety and security as compared to comfort and convenience score. However, speed of motorised vehicles near bus stops was not recorded as a possible safety hazard as recommended in the audit tool kit.
4.Land use mix and pavement type received highest scores whereas most bus stops had poor scores for disabled friendly infrastructure, cleanliness and signage. 
5.Overall rating of bus stop audit showed a clear clustering of high scores in NDMC area (central Delhi), and lower scores of bus stops as the distance from the central city increases. 
6.Bus user survey showed that almost 75% of the bus users use the bus for daily commute and in the absence of the bus the most common alternate mode is three wheelers followed by RTV (small buses run by private operators).
7.Most bus users have about 10 mins of access and egress trips to and from bus stops, and journey time is less than 30 mins for 50% bus users. 
8.Bus users consider reliability of bus services-on time arrival followed by in vehicle time to be the most important attributes for using bus services.
9.Bus users have given lowest score to the current bus reliability and walkability of bus stops.
Fifty percent of the users considered presence of pedestrian signals as poor and 40% users considered lighting at bus stops as inadequate. 
The walkability tool that was created, as part of this research, consists of three elements:
•A mobile phone application,
•An online dashboard, and
•An associated GIS analysis framework. 
The mobile phone application has the following characteristics:
1.Tracking the walking routes of respondents and monitoring distances walked,
2.Allowing for submission of multimedia to support incorporation of affective and experiential expression of access/egress challenges,
3.Allowing for inputting of user ratings of street segments at predefined segment distances and prompting users to submit data, and
4.Allowing for inputting of responses to a list of structured questions regarding user perceptions of parameters associated with walkability.
An online dashboard was developed to accompany the mobile application. The dashboard provides an environment for sorting assessments and viewing them overlaid on Google Maps within the dashboard.
Respondents identified challenges ranging from pedestrian infrastructure not being accessible due to road traffic violations by motorised transport, to having to deal with aggressive motor vehicle drivers, which made the walking experience uncomfortable. 
However, the inability of the pilot methodology to capture both access and egress routes, limited the amount of insight that could be gained from the data. It was not possible to compare whether different routes were used depending on the time of day, and probe what the underlying motivators of such behaviour could be. Nevertheless, the purpose of the pilot studies was to test a new approach to understanding public transport pedestrian challenges. Thus, the successful capture and integration of user ratings, revealed walking routes, media and Spatial Statistical Analysis, through the development and use of the application, point to the success in the design of the application.  
By testing how an emic approach can be incorporated in understanding walkability, through the use of user perceptions, the research provides a case for how Transportation Planning Authorities can go beyond just the “engineer’s view”. This has significant ramifications in creating more equitable transport systems and for empowering marginalised populations within the global South.

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