KOCHI: “There will be a drastic reduction in travel demand triggered by changes like reduced job opportunities and work from home practices during the Covid times,” cites the “Survey on the effects of Covid-19 on transportation: What the experts say” conducted by Centre for Public Policy Research, Kochi. Survey reveals that safety concerns will guide the choice of transport and that there would be an increased preference for private vehicles, non-motorised transport (NMT) and shared mobility services with reduced dependency on public transport.
The survey was conducted by CPPR from June to July 2020 among experts in the transportation sector to understand their perception of the effects of the pandemic on the sector in India. A total of 15 experts consisting of academicians, practitioners, policymakers and researchers, from different parts
of the country, who were closely working with the transportation sector were interviewed.
Key Challenges for Transportation Sector
Experts suggest low patronage for public transport in future due to fear of safety and lack of practices or infrastructure to maintain social distancing. This might even induce a reduction in the number of services available and therefore an increase in fares. The choice will be greatly influenced by safety concerns, and the experts opine that there would be an increased preference for private vehicles, non-motorised transport (NMT) and shared mobility services with reduced dependency on public transport.
Experts unanimously predict a change in the share of major modes of transport with two-wheelers increasing its share significantly while that of the Metro services reducing sharply. Non-motorised transport like cycling and walking will also be increasingly preferred.
Policy changes needed
The government should prioritise investments to improve the infrastructure of Non-motorised transport and electric vehicles. Increased public spending (through Urban Transport Fund) for transport infrastructure development and improving the efficiency of public transport will boost the sector according to the experts. 70 per cent of the experts do not consider an increase in fare as a justifiable strategy to alleviate the financial constraints faced by public transport operators as it is not equitable.
Experts also recommend government support to help private operators by ensuring credit availability through cheap loans and moratoriums. Tax exemptions on fuel, vehicles, etc and exemptions on toll and parking charges could be helpful for the sector to stay afloat, according to the experts.Technological advancements on ticketing and scheduling can improve safety and help build public confidence in the sector.