Safe Access to Mass Transit Manual

Safe Access to Mass Transit Stations in Indian Cities

The Safe Access Manual offers recommendations to develop safe access to mass transit stations in Indian cities. Improving access to mass transit in India—building on a national investment of US$15 billion to help develop urban transport infrastructure—can expand access to jobs and opportunities in urban India. The guide helps to build safe, affordable, and sustainable commuting options, create vibrant public spaces, and serve communities’ needs.

The Safe Access Manual uses a case study approach to inform planning processes and guidelines, implementation and maintenance strategies, and evaluation indicators. The key takeaways focus on planning approaches, institutional structures, and financing mechanisms to address the challenges to implementing station accessibility plans. 

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Executive Summary

Improving access to mass transit in India can serve multiple objectives—leverage 15 billion USD invested in building new public transport systems and provide safe, affordable commuting options, create vibrant public spaces and serve the communities’ needs. 

Station areas are places where different transport modes come together seamlessly to facilitate access to transit and working, living, recreation etc. However, existing toolkits in India emphasize individual aspects such as feeder bus or auto-rickshaw services, road safety, on-street parking management or evaluation of non-motorized transport (NMT) infrastructure along transit corridors. Therefore, there is a need to integrate these approaches to ensure seamless access to mass transit stations by all modes. While there are international manuals focusing on station area accessibility; high urban densities, higher NMT modal shares, informal employment, lower levels of enforcement with limited public participation and uncoordinated institutional structures pose different opportunities and challenges in India and developing countries. 

Thus, using a case study approach to learn from existing initiatives, the manual has multiple objectives. First, it suggests a participatory process to tie the planning, implementation, maintenance and evaluation of station areas in four broad stagesThese are (i) preliminary understanding of the station area; (ii) documentation, analysis and draft master list of projects; (iii) final master list of projects, implementation and maintenance strategies; and (iv) implementation and evaluation. It guides planners on how to identify different types of stakeholders and involve them in different stages through diverse platforms – visioning workshops, design charrettes and public exhibitions – to ensure a participatory process. The role of multi-stakeholder Working Committees and specifically a nodal agency in building consensus and ensuring an inclusive process is highlighted. The Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority (BART), San Francisco demonstrates a case for preparing public participation plans to shape engagement with communities with an emphasis on minorities. Canada has multiple tools to cover different types of public participation, depending on the intention i.e. disseminate information or invite public input and opinion etc. It highlights how inclusive consultations can be facilitated through choice of meeting locations, times, provision of transport subsidies and translations amongst others.

Second, the manual outlines the objectives and guidelines for planning safer access to mass transit stations through - (i) pedestrian and cyclist priority; (ii) seamless integration with feeder routes, services and infrastructure; (iii) parking management; and an (iv) enhanced public realm. There is an emphasis on NMT safety and infrastructure, women’s security and universal accessibility, recognizing the role of existing providers such as street vendors, informal bicycle renting systems etc. and the use of streets as public spaces. The Hubli-Dharwad BRT Station Accessibility Plan demonstrates how an existing street network can be managed to create the most direct and shortest NMT routes to the mass transit station. A comparison of the skywalks and subways in Mumbai, Istanbul, Munich and Hong Kong demonstrate the importance of connecting destinations, universal accessibility, public art and street vendors in creating safe, comfortable and enjoyable grade-separated pathways. Thane in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region illustrates an example  of grade-separated feeder bus and auto-rickshaw services. MIDC Marol, Mumbai highlights the importance of mapping and designing for multiple users of streets and public spaces in a station area.

Third, the manual suggests key takeaways for planning, institutional structures and financing mechanisms to facilitate timely implementation of station accessibility plans. Specifically mass transit agencies and municipal corporations are recommended as nodal agencies for implementation and maintenance; along with a need for state or metropolitan authorities to ensure coordination between multiple agencies. It makes a case for including station accessibility within planning stages of mass transit projects. The Metro Railway (Amendment) Act (2009) is an opportunity for metro-rail authorities to provide integrated transport services for commuters. Medellin, Colombia illustrates how the Metro authority introduced cable services to connect favelas1 at the city periphery to the Metro rail network and upgraded infrastructure—public spaces, streets, libraries etc. along the route.

The manual also explores statutory tools like Local Area Plans (LAPs), where municipal corporations are the nodal agencies for preparation, implementation and maintenance of station areas. The LAPs of Delhi illustrate how local governance and planning can be tied at electoral ward levels and the challenges faced in the process. 

The manual outlines three types of financial mechanisms in implementing station accessibility plans. These include direct finances like budget allocations and funds  embedded within mass transit projects; indirect finances leveraging the potential of urban land through betterment charges, land banks, urban development incentives; and the role of the private sector in urban amenity and service provision like public bicycle sharing schemes.

Fourth, the manual embeds evaluation as a critical aspect of station accessibility planning, implementation and maintenance. It recommends conducting plan assessments after they are prepared. This can be useful for funding agencies and civil society organizations to evaluate the priorities of the plan and to track impact in later stages. It also identifies indicators to assess the station area immediately after implementation and monitor impacts and the quality of service annually. The indicators assess safety and security, pedestrian and cyclist prioritization, feeder service and infrastructure integration, parking management and the quality of the public realm.

While this volume specifically focuses on station areas, Volume 2: Cities Safer by Design extends the benefits of safer access to cities as a whole. Finally, it is acknowledged that a holistic approach of enhancing accessibility and reforming development control regulations together create transit-oriented development districts and these need to be addressed together.

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