After years of planning and implementing solutions in individual silos, those in charge of Chennai’s transport are finally waking up to the benefits of an integrated transport plan. This may mean that stand-alone solutions with limited impact such as the MRTS may soon be a thing of the past. If the two initiatives of the State Government are implemented well, we may have transport solutions that seamlessly blend into each other.
The first of the positive steps is the breathing of fresh life into CUMTA – Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority, a corporate body with 21 members under the chairmanship of the Minister for Transport. The primary focus of CUMTA will be the framing of a transport policy for the city, on the lines of the National Urban Transport Policy. The key functions of CUMTA will include monitoring the implementation of various traffic and transportation measures, including promoting the cause of public mass passenger transport systems and regulating their operations, besides implementation of traffic and transportation infrastructure in the Chennai Metropolitan Area.
The second initiative is the Chennai Comprehensive Transport Study (CCTS) commissioned by the CMDA. The CCTS echoes the founding principles of the CUMTA, for it also demands the improvement of the entire transport corridor and not piecemeal options. The CCTS has called for coordination among the Highways Department, the Corporation, Chennai Traffic Police, the Transport Department, Metrorail and the MRTS. Some of its major recommendations include development of a bus rapid transport system, a network of suburban rail for over 200 km and the construction of a 62 km multi-modal outer ring road.
Within the city, the CCTS has stipulated certain much-needed standards. It has stated that pavements of not less than 1.5m width must be provided in all residential areas and the footpath width on major roads ought to be 3m. It has suggested a uniform code for pavements, gradients, drainage, ducting of utilities and activities along curbs. It has also underscored the importance of a safety audit for all transport solutions. And it has said that the current practice of relaying road surfaces on top of the earlier surface must be stopped forthwith. Scraping of the top surface will be mandatory.
Will all this actually come to be a reality? Much depends on the attitude of those in charge of the various concerned departments. It is understood that the first meetings have already taken place and matters are moving ahead. If that is so, it certainly augurs well for the city.