Integrating Health Benefits into Transportation Planning and Policy in India
Typical transport investment and policy proposals in India may consider factors such as connectivity with surrounding areas, land use and socioeconomic impacts, available funding, and the level of support from local stakeholders. All too often, these assessments consistently overlook the health impacts of transport. Despite this, there is a consistent and powerful connection between transport and health. This issue brief aims to develop an appropriate methodology for assessing the health impacts from urban transportation projects, plans, and policies in the Indian context.
Note: this publication was updated June 2014.
Typical transportation investment or policy proposals in India may consider evaluation factors such as connectivity with surrounding areas, land use and socioeconomic impacts, funding availability and commitment, and stakeholder support constraints. However they overlook one important factor: health impacts of transportation.
Rapid motorization of Indian cities has led to a public health crisis in the form of increased traffic injuries and fatalities, exposure to air and noise pollution, and decreased physical activity among many other adverse health and environmental impacts. There is thus an urgent need to assess health impacts of transportation prior to project implementation to better inform decision makers how to maximize the benefits and minimize the negative impacts on health. This also requires increased engagement and discussion between public health professionals and urban transport professionals, an objective that this Issue Brief aims to accomplish.
Health Impact Assessment (HIA) methodologies and tools have been used extensively in the developed world primarily to support broader environmental impact assessments of projects, programs, and policies, but only recently in the transportation sector. The concept of conducting an HIA has now started to gain traction in the developing world. Unfortunately, much of the methodology and indicators are specific to a developed world context.
This issue brief aims to develop an appropriate methodology for assessing the health impacts from urban transportation projects, plans, and policies in the Indian context. Through a review of the literature and expert input from transportation planners and public health professionals, we first identified the HIA typologies and health impacts relevant to the transportation sector in India. We then developed a methodology to conduct HIAs focusing on modal shift and vehicle kilometers traveled for Indian cities, where measurement of health outcomes can be difficult and resource-intensive. We applied the methodology and evidence gathered through the review to the City of Indore, Madhya Pradesh to evaluate the health impacts of the recently implemented BRT corridor in the city. We estimate that about 19 lives can be saved per year after 2014, accounting for the reduction fatalities from reduction in private motorized VKT, reduction in air pollution exposure, and health benefits from increased physical activity. Finally, we present recommendations and conclusions on the importance of integrating health benefits into urban transportation planning and policy in India.