UPA Budget 2010 brings reality check for the car-crazed

Union Budget 2010 brings a reality check about commuting
A rallyist in Chennai holds out a universal message. The rally was taken out to demand spaces for people to walk in Tamil Nadu's pedestrian-unfriendly capital

The wages of neglect are catching up with the Indian population on the question of our transport alternatives.

By remaining blissfully immersed in the pleasures of the personal automobile, the Indian middle class and the Trade Unions did not demand increase in public transport alternatives which benefit all sections of society. The lull in fuel pricing made us all even more complacent. But there is no escape now.

The Union Budget 2010 has administered a therapeutic shock to these people, with a fuel price hike. We welcome it wholeheartedly, although we would have liked to see the Excise Duty of one rupee per litre being sequestered into a fund that will invest in metro rail, tram, bus, bicycle and pedestrian systems.

Let us learn the lesson at least now. Demand greater investment in and modernisation of mass transit in all our cities and towns.

If we do not pursue this, the future may be worse.

A rise in the price of fuel internationally is on the cards, and leading financial journals are forecasting that the price has remained artificially low. Even a 10 dollar increase in the price of crude, which would still be far lower than the historical high, will generate a spurt in prices.

By demanding investments in bus, road, traditional urban rail and metro systems, and quickly at that, we are ensuring sustainable ways to commute into the future. Raise your voice. Today!

You can write in to your local and neighbourhood newspaper urging improvements to your bus and rail network. Demand improved information on available services. Urge that the State Government operationalise the Urban Transport Regulatory Authority, which can monitor the quality of service and fares.

Too difficult for India?
If Barcelona can do it, why can't India? These Bicing bicycles can be hired for a deposit, and used free in Barcelona. On return, the deposit is refunded. Photo: G.Ananthakrishnan

Write in to the Union Urban Development Minister, (the list of officials under Right to Information Act are listed here : http://www.urbanindia.nic.in/publicinfo/PIO.pdf)  the State Transport Minister and the Transport Authority in your town/city demanding improvements to service and integration.

Join the Facebook group that we run under the slogan title “Modern India Needs Modern Transit.” The link to the group is here: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/causes/331571

You could add your own photos, stories and videos to the page, and strengthen the cause, wherever you may be. We are primarily in the city of Chennai, and we closely follow the state of the suburban rail, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation which offers bus service as a monopoly, and the MRTS, a mostly-elevated rail system that is badly neglected.

Find more on transport imperatives elsewhere in the blog.


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