Re-engaging With Technology for Transit Oriented Development

Fri, 2015-12-18 13:04 -- SCC India Staff

Transit-oriented development

Technology is the answer, but what is the question? – Cedric Price

Smart city is one that looks to use technology to make a city more affordable and more liveable. A smart city can improve upon:

  • public transit
  • waste management
  • power generation and lighting
  • safety and security
  • parking
  • aesthetics such as fountains
  • building management
  • environmental factors
  • border control
  • tourism…among countless other areas.

The local authorities of respective identified cities are also trying to prioritise the areas where technology can contribute. However, every city has its own permutations & combinations, and it is our right as designers, thinkers, makers and even citizens, should be the first to call the shots. Smart cities are inherently mobile cities. And by saying that, transport and transit, both come to the forefront of reassessment with respect to the smart city conundrum.

“Start with the street,
Design to ask questions,
Prototype and iterate,
Design for participation,
Re-design the way we make decisions.

How do we re-engage technology to make transport and transit more convenient for the citizens of the city? Traditional models of city development can lock us into congestion, sprawl, and inefficient resource use. However, compact, connected, and efficient growth can help ensure more competitive cities, and provide a better quality of life for citizens. The decisions we make today, as citizens, as local officials, developers, and planners today will determine how billions of urban cities will live over the next century. Already, half the global population resides in cities. The figure is set to increase to 70 percent by 2050. Policy changes recommended after in-depth research and analyses are pivotal for urbanisation. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) claims to be one such manual proposing planning & design strategies to improve quality of life in cities. Mainly transport and communication centric, this guide for Mexican cities draws resourceful insights which can serve guidance to other similar urban set ups. The guide is aimed at private sector decision makers, investors, and builders, and contains 28 concrete recommendations for designing more inclusive, sustainable cities.

India is urbanizing at an unprecedented speed. However, most developments around the cities have taken place in an unsustainable manner, with priorities given to cars rather than public transit or pedestrian connections. This development pattern often results in unsustainable neighbourhoods with large urban blocks, and poor pedestrian and biking environments. The soaring number of cars exacerbates the problems that cities are facing today such as congestion and air pollution. Transit oriented development (TOD), which promotes dense, mix-used urban development with good walking and biking connections around transit stations, is a useful and important concept for urbanizing regions and cities. This TOD Guide for Urban Communities shares the best practice guidelines in transit oriented development around the world. This publication summarizes 28 concrete design recommendations for transit oriented development. It also identifies seven steps that developers and authorities should follow in transit oriented development. The target audiences are real estate developers, public sector decision makers, researchers, and citizens searching for quality-of-life improvement. The document was originally written by EMBARQ Mexico, with the aim of providing TOD design criteria and recommendations for urban projects in Mexico. However, through the knowledge and practices of EMBARQ network, it was observed that this could serve as a rule book and guide for many urban cities across the globe.

A few strategies as listed by TOD specific to Mumbai include
1. Manage people densities and not just “built-up areas”
2. Manage diverse mix of land uses, with access to shared social amenities and open spaces
3. Improve design for pedestrian access, with active street edges and a people-oriented urban form
4. Enhance public transport access, comfort, and inter Enhance public transport access, comfort, and inter-modal connectivity to improve accessibility to destinations
5. Decrease distance to transit and encourage local walking and cycling
6. Rationalise private vehicle usage through demand management using comprehensive TDM strategies.

With the phase 1, of top 20 mission cities to be announced by Prime minister Narendra Modi on 15th December, it’s time to re-engage, with our idea of city-smart and look at it from a citizen’s perspective.

Sum of parts is greater than the whole…

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