The New Indian Transportation Model

A vision for Smart City transportation which seamlessly integrates connected autonomous mobility, ride-sharing algorithms and electric vehicle technology to fulfill the aspirations of 1.3 billion Indians.

The Problem

·         High death-rate for Roads

·         Urban Land Scarcity

·         Rising Commute Times

·         Rising Air Pollution

Here’s a chart of how Indians commute in our cities. (S, 2016)

Here’s a chart of how Indians commute in our cities. (S, 2016)

This is actually a very healthy commuter distribution for a modern day city. 51% of us commute using non-motorized forms of transport: walking or cycling – which are non-polluting modes of transport that keep us fit and healthy. 21% of us use high-density shared transportation, including Buses (16%) and trains (5%). The low usage of trains (5%) is understandable, since most cities are just beginning to introduce mass transit rail systems.

18% use motorized two-wheelers including motorcycles and scooters, which are relatively more fuel efficient and occupy less space on the road both during use and when parked, compared to cars and SUVs which only 4% of commuters use. Another 4% of commuters use shared on-demand forms of transport like taxis and rickshaws. However, it will be a challenge to maintain these ratios as our economy grows.


Rising Car Ownership

In 2008 the average commuter spent around 8 hours 46 minutes commuting per week (Nangia, 2008). In 2015, that weekly average was up to twelve and half-hours. (Dash, 2015).

Car ownership trends indicate that this is only going to get worse.  In the past decade alone the number of cars on the road has tripled and this is forecast to grow by 775% by 2040. (CarandBike Team (With Inputs from PTI), 2016) That means for every car on the road today, 7 will be competing for the same limited space.

Indian cities can not handle such an influx of motor-vehicles. Which is why we need a fundamental shift in the way we think about urban design in India: to focus on moving people instead of moving cars; to dedicate space to the people who need it the most and to make choices which are sustainable and scale-able for a better future. For more information on the problems, watch Make Rail Sexy Again: Part 1 (below).

The Solutions: Phase 1

A series of low-cost land-repurposing measures to put people-movement ahead of motorized vehicles.


To enhance walk-ability, the Spanish city of Barcelona created “superblocks” by re-routing car traffic around specific areas to resulting in car-free zones. In India, superblocks can be created by identifying areas where a car has more than one path to reach a destination.

Air Rights

The American city of Chicago created a network of roads underneath the central business district to carry car and large vehicle traffic. While enhancing the city’s appearance and walkability. Chicago’s famous Millennium Park, home to “The Bean” was built above existing and still operational parking lots and railway tracks. 

Shifting roads underground or building over railway-lines reclaims space for people to get around.

The Bicycle Network

Amsterdam in The Netherlands is a world leader in bicycle infrastructure and many of their ideas can be incorporated in India. Here are a few: Giving cycle tracks a uniform color that’s different from the road surface cars drive on; Placing protective medians between cycles and car traffic. and designing junctions which allow cars, bicycles and pedestrians to all cross safely.

Increase Charges on Cars

Parking: Very rarely do cars & trucks pay for parking on city streets, even though they occupy space that pedestrians and cyclists need. Paid parking zones, strict rules and better enforcement.

Congestion: In areas with limited-space, zone-based charges, can ensure car owners pay for using the scarce space in city centers. Time based tolling, which increases toll-rates during peak traffic periods, increase the cost of driving when demand is high.

Environmental Impact: Pollution costs the nation between 3-8% of our GDP due to serious health consequences. A carbon-tax based on mileage and fuel efficiency will ensure those that cause pollution, pay for it.

Watch Make Rail Sexy Again: Part 2  (below) for more Phase 1: Solutions

The Solutions: Phase 2

Autonomous Vehicles

Every 4 minutes an Indian is killed on our roads for a total of over 140,000 deaths annually. Studies suggest that human error is responsible for over 90% of all accidents.

This means that eliminating unpredictable human drivers and ensuring pedestrian and cyclist separation will massively reduce the number of lives lost on our roads.

Road Deaths.jpg

Ride Sharing Apps


Smartphone apps like, Ola and Uber already allow you to choose vehicles of different sizes and comfort levels depending on your needs while their algorithms coordinate pick-ups, drop-offs and carpooling along with invisible payments.

ITM will be powered by a similar system along with additional features for multipoint travel, long-term use and tourism.With over 300 million Indian smartphone users, the people already have the tools they need to adopt ITM.

Electric Vehicles

A fleet of Electric vehicles, powered by clean renewable energy sources is the ultimate goal for sustainable mobility. EVs will also reduce our dependence on imported hydrocarbons.Additionally, ITM Vehicles won’t run out of battery power during rides since the autonomous system can remove them from service and send them straight to chargers if their range drops too low.



It would be impractical for the whole nation to transform into a giant ITM zone overnight. Existing cities will transition in phases with the conversion of specific zones and corridors that are gradually expanded over time. Smaller towns will find it easier to implement ITM than the large Metros, while Greenfield cities like Dholera, Naya Raipur and Andhra Pradesh’s new capital city Amaravati have the opportunity to incorporate ITM right from the start.

For the residents of an ITM city, autonomous transportation will be another basic utility like water pipes, electricity cables and cellular towers. Its use will be as routine as using an elevator. Watch Make Rail Sexy Again: Part 3 below for more information