CHENNAI: The Centre is drafting an Act to create a unified metropolitan transport authority (UMTA) in each of the cities, which will be a single-body governing the city transport systems. This could profoundly change the way people travelled in major cities.
While most western cities have such single bodies overseeing the planning of the transport systems, the plethora of transport agencies in Indian cities was widely believed by experts as the main reason for lack of coordination between various transport systems.
A highly placed source in the Union Ministry of Urban Development told Express that a meeting was recently held in New Delhi by the ministry for a consultation to draft the Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority Bill (generic) 2016 in the first week of March.
While attempts by the previous UPA regime to bring in a similar law in 2014 failed, the NDA government has taken steps to pass the Act, along with the smart cities initiative. The Union Ministry of Urban Development organised a national workshop on the UMTA draft bill in the first week of March in which senior officials of various states took part.
A unified transport authority was intended first in the National Urban Transport Policy for all million plus cities in the country. Chennai is one of the few cities in the country to have a legislation way back in 2010 for creating such an authority. While the Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority Act got the Governor’s consent and was published in the Gazattee in December 2, 2010, the authority was never notified.
According to sources, the UMTA draft bill focuses on, among other things, a comprehensive mobility plan (CMP) and this would bring far flung areas of the city under the ambit of the unified transport authority. The CMP will aim at integrating land use and transport planning. As land use planning influences travel patterns, the CMP should scrutinize the use patterns from the perspective of developing urban transport.
The Institute for Transportation and Development (ITDP) regional director Shreya Gadepalli stressed that such a CMP was for bigger cities like Chennai. She said the new UMTA Act by the Centre was a welcome move but to make it enforceable, the State government had to ratify it. She said such an unified authority for transport in a city was needed as now transport planning was fragmented. “The bigger question is we have many laws in India but then we have to see how well they are implemented,” she added.
Raj Cherubal of City Connect says the Central Act on the unified transport authority may work wonders for Chennai as it will make it mandatory for the states to enforce it. The Central draft act also aims to bring waterways within the UMTA as it stresses on the need to have an official of Port Trust and inland Waterways in it. The act also proposes a member from the Ministry of Urban Development in UMTA under the proposed Act.