Examining Sustainable Urban Transportation

hrough fuel-efficient systems, space saving by development of public transport systems towards preserving the natural resources on earth for the future generations.

“Environmentally Sustainable Transportation (EST) is: Transportation that does not endanger public health or ecosystems and meets needs for access consistent with

(a) use of renewable resources at below their rates of regeneration, and

(b) use of non-renewable resources at below the rates of development of renewable substitutes.” – (OECD 1998)

Literature Review on evaluation, monitoring systems and effective indicators:

The indicators are essential in evaluation and monitoring of the goals in comparison with the existing situation. Evaluation helps in the measurement of outcomes or results of implementation while monitoring system focuses on the operation level. The evaluation and monitoring system works by feeding the output of one process as an input of others like monitoring system gives continuous feedback to evaluation and further decision making process.

“Monitoring is a continuous and systematic process carried out during the duration of an intervention, which generates quantitative data on the implementation of the intervention, but not usually on its effects. The intention is to correct any deviation from the operational objectives, and thus improve the performance of the program as well as facilitate subsequent evaluation.”[1]

Evaluation is continuous validation of the inputs from the monitoring systems based on the goal indicators. An indicator gives the measurement of goals to be achieved. As it is obvious that Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are used to validate the achievement of goals in any organization, most of the time the managements remuneration’s and bonuses are tied to KPI’s emphasizing more on the goals to be achieved by the management. Similarly the same concept applies for the validation of goals achievement in sustainable transport.


Relevance checks whether objectives of sustainable transport address the current problems in the urbanized metropolitan cities.

Efficiency helps in measuring whether the sustainable outcomes are justifiable both economically and environmentally.

Effectiveness compares the objectives with its outcomes to measure how well the objectives were achieved.

Utility sustainability measures the obtained impact due to the outcomes of changes made towards sustainable transportation.

Sustainable development is a combination of 3 factors environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and sustainable society.

Figure 2: Source: Google Images

Economic indicators for economic development are in line with achieving the economic factors like earnings, wealth, job opportunities and economic productivity.

Social indicators include public health, community living, culture and traditions.

Environmental indicators include the pollution in air quality due to GHG (Green House Gases), noise pollution, water contamination, loss or damage to natural resources, climate change etc.

Always quantifiable measures are most essential to setup the goals and peruse them.

The Enterprise:

The name of the chosen city for providing sustainable solutions in transport is called Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka (state), India. The discussion focuses on the sustainable transport options with multi-dimensions economic, environmental and socio-cultural solutions for future. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) undertakes the planning and projects addressing the growing needs of the city. Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) runs buses to service the public transport needs.

Bangalore is one of the India’s fastest populating cities due to the growth in Information technology exports (IT) and IT enabled services (ITES). Bangalore is the IT hub of India due to which this ‘Garden City’ is also called as ‘Silicon valley of India’.

A new master plan to develop infrastructure and changes in government policies to address the growing problems of congestion, air pollution, noise, productivity, accessibility and reduce the impact on climate and climate change to achieve by 2015.

The Motorization Index gives us the information about the rate of growth of motor vehicles on the roads of Bangalore.

Figure 3: Source: Congestion to De-motorisation – A Paradigm Shift for Bangalore

All the offices and Industries operate mostly from 10:00am to 5:00pm therefore the peak times for traffic congestion is due to the commuters in the morning and evenings.

The calculated population of Bangalore is 6,562,408 by 2010. The population is increasing at 35% every year among which 45% is due to migration from other cities and states. To address the growing demand for road networks, Congestion problems, and need for metro rail to commuters, land space for development, amount of air pollution due to the emissions from vehicles.

The fuel efficiency drops significantly due to the slow movement of vehicles during the congestion periods. The following table shows the average speed of vehicles in Km/hr which shows the wastage of fuel and thus its unnecessary emissions. “On an average each litre of fuel burnt (either petrol diesel or aviation fuel) contributes roughly 2.5–3.0 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions, that directly illustrates the savings in green house gases for every litre of fuel saved from improved vehicle efficiencies and reductions in fuel consumption (McDonald 1999)”[2].


SUSTAINABILITY DIMENSIONS. Consider the 3 sustainability dimensions as they apply to this enterprise. In this section students should identify and describe the range of socio-cultural, economic and environmental dimensions that apply to the operation of the chosen enterprise and explain how each is relevant. Some dimensions may apply more to specific enterprises but some treatment of all three dimensions for all enterprises is required. This part of the report should be in essay form. (2-3 pages).

Sustainability Dimensions:

Sustainable development is based on 3 pillars as discussed earlier in Figure 2. The transport sector is a major contributor for the Green House Gas emissions. The key solution for achieving sustainable transport is to reduce the need for transport through urban city developments which supports shorter trips encouraging commuters to walk or use cycles. Develop transport corridors to enable greater accessibility for public transport while integration with alternate transport modes.

A few suggested achievable Solutions addressing the current transport issues towards sustainable transport in next 5 years i.e., by 2015 are

  • Metro Rail Project
  • Bus Rapid Transit System
  • Greener Vehicle technologies
  • Government Policies

All these four options include one or more dimensions of sustainability. Those dimensions are mentioned while discussing each solution.

Metro Rail Project:

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is building metro rail for Bangalore. This is planned to cover the higher traffic movement areas.

Figure 4: Source: BMRCL Metro rail Project (2007)[8]

The project under proposal by 2011 is expected to carry around 1.57 million people every day thereby reducing the road traffic and its relative environmental, economic and social factors. The frequency of service is scheduled to be for every 3 to 4 minutes during peak hours.

Environment Savings:

Air Pollution is expected to reduce the need for 15000 bus trips. On an average the distance travelled by commuters is about 8 Km a day and on average a bus consumes 2lt of fuel to travel 8km’s. On an average 120,000 Km of road travelling distance is reduced thereby resulting in reduction of demand for fuel for about 30,000lt a day, leading to reduction in emissions of about 75000 Kg of Green House Gases.

Metro Rail uses electricity as the energy source one might think to consider the GHG’s accounted for the generation of electricity. Karnataka generates 50% out of total power through thermal plants and remaining 50% through Hydro, Solar and Wind energies. Purchase of energy from renewable energy source eliminates the emissions.

Economical savings:

The fuel costs about Rs 60 to travel 10km by car while it costs only Rs 6 – 8 to travel on train. Saves lot of time since there is no time waste due to the traffic jam or congestion, time is money one can use the time saved to increase their productivity. So benefit for improvement in GDP. Car maintenance expenses are avoided.

Socio-cultural benefits:

More time to socialize with friends and family due to the saved time. Improved air quality and healthy life style encourages community living and contributes to the well being of society.

Bus Rapid Transit System:

BRT is a way of dedicating few lanes for usage of public transport buses.

Figure 5: Source: Google Images

This system encourages the usage of public buses due to reduction in travel time because of no traffic congestion, Comfort, Cost saving, accessibility and finally less space for other vehicles discouraging the usage of private vehicles.

For example on a busy highway say over 150mt of road traffic is jammed and that 150mt contains about 150 vehicles in total including cars, 2-wheelers, auto rickshaw’s etc and on an average each vehicle contains only 1 person per vehicle. Replace all these vehicles using just only 2 buses saves space, fuel, solves congestion and time.

Figure 6: Source: Google Images

Economical and Socio-cultural benefits are similar to that of a metro rail project. But a small change of display board at bus stops which is a real time electronic interactive display showing the route maps of busses, real time timings, route advising. This is possible by attaching a GPS device in every bus and all these devices communicate to the central hub which maintains the real time interactive system.

Environmental Saving:

When every 75 vehicles is replaced by a bus it saves the fuel consumed on average every commuter travels about 10km a day spending about 1 to 1.5lt of fuel, In total for 75 vehicles it is around 80lt of fuel. For a Bus it uses about 2lt of fuel for travelling 10km therefore the usage of fuel is reduced which means less carbon emissions.

Innovation in technology towards greener vehicles saves the emissions from busses as well. A few options available are discussed in green vehicle technologies.

Green Vehicle technologies

CNG as the fuel

“A transit bus equipped with CNG engines produces 49% lower nitrogen oxides emissions and 84% lower particulate matter emissions versus transit buses those are equipped with diesel engines.”[3]

Ultra Capacitor busses

These busses have Ultra Capacity Capacitors. Capacitors are usually used for fast charging and discharging in electronic circuits the same concept is used here in urban areas the busses do stop often for every Km on an average. These capacitors can power bus to travel up to 3km on one charge. They get recharged when the bus stops at bus stop. Each bus stop is equipped with electrical charge points on top. In emergency cases the busses are equipped with emergency backup battery. The only possible emission due to this system is during power generation, if the power is purchased from renewable sources that are avoided.


Figure 7: Source: Google Images

Fuel Cell technology

Hybrid bus and busses with fuel cell technology, Solar panels as the roof top for busses to power some part of energy supply for busses. Hydro powered busses, Still research is under progress by scientists hopefully a good innovation will save environmental impact due to transport.

Govt Policies:

Immediate change in the way people behave can be achieved by changing the government policies. A few recommended changes in policies to encourage sustainable transportation are:

Increase in taxes on purchase of private vehicles to discourage them, and changes in accounting policies not to allow any deductions for vehicles which carry less than 20 people.

Encourage usage of cleaner burning fuels by providing incentives.

Direct taxing based on the usage of vehicle instead of indirect taxing.

Encouraging the companies to implement work from home strategies to reduce the demand for transport. It is very much possible in cities like Bangalore for its IT and ITES companies being 40% of total occupants in city where work can be done through online.

During city planning and project approvals measure the need for transport and its impacts. Then think for alternate options to reduce the demand for transport through development of centralised urban hubs where most of the people might need to walk or cycle for their needs.

Construction of segregated facilities for pedestrians and bi-cycles

Development of infrastructure with ring roads connecting the city like inner ring road, outer ring road. Since all the roads converge into the city at the moment, therefore need for passing through the city roads increases. To avoid that this concept of ring roads enabled to travel from one place to other without the need to travel via city.

A combination of the above discussed solutions will help in achieving the sustainable transport. Modal transport model which negotiates the maximum possible outcomes of all systems based on the situations of the place.

Figure 8: Source: http://www.praja.in/en/gyan/73-the-metro-network-system

To Choose one specific area of sustainability I choose environment.

Indicators of Environmental Sustainability in Transport:

Table 2: List of Indicators with targets and its limitations

Indicator name


By 2015



Carbon emissions

Reduce by 10% of 2010

Based on number of vehicles, number of trips, fuel efficiency

Efficiency of service provided by BMTC and BMRCL

Total no. of vehicles

Less than 1million

Registration of vehicles

Reaction by public for Govt Policy changes

Combusting fuel Usage

Reduce by 30% of 2010

Total amount fuel used by the fleet of BMTC and BMRCL

By innovation in eco-friendly vehicles

Renewable power usage


Source of power purchased


The major impacts due to transport on environment are

Green House gases:

The targeted emissions due to transport sector by 2015 should reduce by at least by 10% of 2010 emission levels.

Air Pollution:

Air pollution in urban cities due to vehicles forms smog therefore making unbreathable. The problem of air pollution can be solved by reducing the number of vehicles on road. Change in the lifestyles of commuting to work, using public transport instead of private vehicles.


Noise can be reduced by reducing the number of vehicles on roads. Honking in India is more when compared with other countries. Govt should educate people not to use horns until unless necessary thereby reduces the amount of noise.

Land space for plants

When the demand for transport goes down the number of people commuting reduces, the number of vehicles on roads comes down. Therefore the need for additional infrastructure does not arise saving huge amounts of money. Bangalore is called with a nick name of Garden City because of its greenery but the city shape is changing due to its rapid urbanisation, for expansion of roads they are cutting down trees. By avoiding the need for extra infrastructure trees have their space and the city can remain green.

New plans for the development of existing parks and building new parks with bring in more greenery into the city retaining its nick name of Garden City.

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