Aerial view of Bangalore city in south India
Building a Shared, Clean and Citizen-Centric Mobility System in Bangalore
This article was co-authored by Marshall Abramczyk, Rocky Mountain Institute.
Bangalore, like many cities across India, is witnessing significant growth in mobility demand driven by rapid urbanization and growing incomes. This growth is straining an already burdened transportation system, resulting in many economic and environmental issues. As India’s fifth-largest and one of its fastest growing cities, Bangalore is witnessing severe congestion and increased air pollution due in part to rising private vehicle use and a decrease in public transport ridership. Known as the most congested city in the world, Bangalore will need to develop and deploy shared, clean, and citizen-centric mobility solutions to ensure this demand is met in a sustainable manner that provides safe, accessible, and reliable transportation for citizens.
Bangalore’s transit agencies, urban local bodies, and entrepreneurs are taking steps to address these challenges and implement solutions to build a transportation system that better meets the needs of inhabitants. These strategies include improving the efficiency of public transport systems, enabling multimodal mobility, and promoting better planning and city design. Bangalore and Karnataka have also signaled their leadership in India’s clean mobility transition. Bangalore launched India’s first electric bus in 2014, followed by Karnataka becoming the first Indian state to launch an electric vehicle (EV) policy in 2017. Most recently, Bangalore drafted a comprehensive mobility plan detailing a vision and strategy for creating efficient and sustainable transportation for all.
Stakeholders in Bangalore have an opportunity to collaboratively develop and deploy solutions that support these proactive steps and overcome the many persistent challenges. Ultimately these solutions can ensure its future mobility system is safe, accessible, and reliable.
Hosting the Urban Mobility Lab
On 19–20 February, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), RMI India, and Micelio, in partnership with the Government of Karnataka*, convened over 170 stakeholders from Bangalore’s mobility ecosystem in a two-day facilitated workshop as part of the Urban Mobility Lab. The workshop provided an open forum for the government, private sector, and civil society to codevelop solutions to system-level challenges and implementation plans for mobility projects.
The participants were placed into multi-stakeholder working groups around the six priority areas: public transport, first- and last-mile connectivity, data-based solutions, charging and battery swapping infrastructure, urban file-mile delivery, and EV manufacturing and supply chains.
Actionable solutions to help Bangalore achieve its mobility goals
Public transport is an important mode of transportation as it provides accessible and affordable mobility for Bangaloreans. Public transport is the primary mode in Bangalore, but ridership has been declining over the past several years. The working group’s aim was to make public transport a mode of choice and achieve ridership growth by improving service. The group focused on implementing service-level agreements that support long-term planning and funding based on achieving benchmarks for level of service—better ensuring that the provided services are affordable, reliable, and consistent.
Given Bangalore’s growing transportation network and high congestion, effective first- and last-mile options connected to public transport are becoming increasingly important. The working group proposed a documented pilot project in a high-density corridor to validate the benefits of multimodal transport and capture insights to develop replicable processes for city-wide scaling. The working group also offered recommendations for amendments to existing policies as well as drafting new policies to support new, clean, and shared first- and last-mile mobility solutions.
Data is a key tool that can help Bangalore develop a well-planned and integrated mobility system. The group prioritized a set of actions aimed at developing the technical and governance infrastructure to support data sharing across modes of transport, as a means of achieving a significant increase in public and shared mobility ridership in Bangalore. The formation of a Mobility Data Council was identified as a critical first step.
A well-designed and planned charging and battery swapping infrastructure is critical for the adoption of electric vehicles. To build a comprehensive system to support EV rollout, the charging infrastructure working group proposed a 1,000 EV pilot with supporting charging and swapping infrastructure. Data collected and analyzed from the pilot would inform infrastructure specifications and siting, where improvements can help reduce issues with range anxiety and poor deployment of city resources.
Final-mile delivery—including use cases such as food and parcel delivery—is critical to a healthy economy and will become increasingly so as India’s online retail market grows. In the movement of goods, the last miles of movement—getting the product to the consumer—often account for more than 50 percent of the total costs and disproportionally contribute to local air pollution. The less polluting nature and lower operating costs of EVs in final-mile use-cases presents an environmental and economic opportunity for cities. However, the absence of charging infrastructure is one barrier for adoption. This working group proposed a pilot that aims to analyze vehicle performance and travel data to build an optimized city-wide charging and battery swapping network.
Many policies and measures adopted by the Karnataka government are leading to the state being recognized as an EV manufacturing hub. According to the working group, as India continues to pursue EV adoption, Karnataka can continue to grow its R&D and manufacturing leadership by enhancing supply-side policy frameworks that further support innovation and ease of doing business for both startups and established players alike. The group also recommended the development of a common parts platform to help spur domestic manufacturing. Such a platform would encourage local players to enter the market, provide the benefit of economies of scale, and lower the manufacturing costs which can be transferred to the EV consumer in the form of lower purchase costs.
Way forward: Implementing mobility solutions
Realizing Bangalore’s potential for accessible, reliable, and citizen-centric transportation will take continued commitment and collaboration on the part of all stakeholders. The inaugural workshop of the Urban Mobility Lab in Bangalore demonstrated the enthusiasm and dedication of Bangalore’s transportation stakeholders to this cause. Moving forward, RMI, RMI India, and Micelio, in consultation with the government departments, will work with stakeholders to help advance a select portfolio of the mobility solutions. Through the mobility solutions outlined above, Bangalore can provide safe, reliable, and efficient transportation for citizens and further elevate the city as an example for other cities to follow in their mobility transitions.
*The following three departments of the Government of Karnataka participated in the Bangalore UML: The Directorate of Urban Land Transport, Invest Karnataka Forum, and the Department of Industries and Commerce.