Integrating Intermediate Public Transport Within Transport Regulation in a Megacity: A Kolkata Case Study
Movement is integral to urban life and cities function off the energy of potential opportunity, growth and freedom. One of the cornerstones of an inclusive urban space is the availability of regular and affordable mobility opportunities for all citizens, irrespective of their socio-economic status. This report focuses on the regulatory and operational aspects of Intermediate Public Transportation (IPT) in Kolkata, India. The Kolkata Metropolitan Region was chosen because it arguably has the most varied and complex set of transport systems, public and private, among the megacity regions in India, offering citizens ferries, trams, buses, trains, a metro, taxis, auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws. Despite its status as a megacity, Kolkata has an unusual combination of high population density, low vehicular ownership and low road length – constrains that could be harnessed to create more adaptable, environment-friendly transportation alternatives. This report focuses on the role of auto-rickshaws as IPT in the city as studies have demonstrated that auto-rickshaws in Kolkata serve a larger population of commuters at lower fiscal costs, and levels of environmental destruction and infrastructure usage. These findings are based on a mixed methodology of quantitative and qualitative research, including a pan-city survey and in-depth interviews of stakeholders in the political economy of IPT in Kolkata. The findings are strengthened by a GIS mapping of autorickshaw routes and a deep analysis of the regulatory and legal framework within which IPT systems function in Kolkata. This report argues that auto-rickshaws are viewed as a primary form of IPT because they are affordable, regular, safe, predictable and cover large majority of the city’s inhabited geographic area.