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India’s urban planning overlooks commuters who walk

Walking remains a popular way to get to work in India, yet urban planners are largely planning for commutes by car. (Alexandra Lande /

In India, urban planners appear to be out of step with commuters.

Rukmini S. reports for The Hindu that more than a fifth of the nation’s non-agricultural commuters reach work on foot. Large numbers also commute by bicycle, moped, motorbike, rickshaw and bus. Less than three percent reach their jobs by car or van, and more than half travel less than five kilometers (three miles), according to recent Census data.

Despite these figures, new, American-style satellite cities and suburban communities are being built throughout India in locations that require long commutes, the article says. It’s a trend that’s worrisome for the poor because transit expenses cut into meager earnings.

“That is why attempts to shift the poor to the peripheries through slum rehabilitation schemes are so misguided,” Shreya Gadepalli tells The Hindu. She is India regional director at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. The article also asserts that bus rapid transit is a better investment for many Indian cities than subway systems. That’s because BRT is less expensive to build and maintain and offers more flexible service. 

The Hindu

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