I am forwarding this pair of exchanges to our freinds and Sustran and New Mobility café not because there are necessarily so many rickshaws on the streets of many other parts of the world outside of Asia, but rather because it serves as a telling reminder that our future in virtually all cities is going to lie in being our able to create and then concatenate and coordinate many different kinds of carriers. Until now we have been in most places hapless victims of what might be called the old public transport monopoly and mind set, which clearly is not enough.
We can learn a great deal by looking at these less familiar situations and stretching our minds. Or so I would claim.
On Behalf Of firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 2:14 PM
To: Asia and the Pacific sustainable transport
The whole premise of this argument that rickshaws have to be banned to improve the bus system is disingenuous, firstly in suggesting that the DUTP has been genuinely focusing on bus system improvements (they haven't), and secondly in suggesting that it is not possible to accommodate high volumes of buses and rickshaws in the same main corridors (it is).
I reviewed the DUTP bus recommendations and they were quite weak. Their main thrust was to try to promote a few new 'premium', air-con routes while there was no attention given to on-street bus priority, bus stop design, or how to design corridors to accommodate both NMT and high volumes of buses. The only bus system recommendation of the DUTP actually implemented had no impact on the bus system. It was route tendering pilot which was not seriously bid for and which the 'winner' will not operate.
I talked to the directors of one new private bus operator. They have several routes, and all are profitable except for one. Which one? The NMT free route from Uttara to Motijheel. The main reason for the loss? Severe congestion. So does making the road NMT free solve congestion?? Operating speeds for buses on this 'NMT free' route are often less than 10km/hr.
The claim that rickshaws are the main gripe of the bus operators are not true according to my recent experience there. I spoke to directors of both of the new major new bus operators in the city. They have many concerns, the most serious of which is the poor operating conditions caused by congestion (especially on the rickshaw free route mentioned above), difficulties in licensing / permits, a 'fare war', and other issues. Of course there are many conflicts between buses and rickshaws, but also between buses and every other mode given the total lack of priority for buses in Dhaka.
The claim that bus operators are 'standing by' waiting for the government to ban rickshaws is also untrue in my view. There is a lot that can be done to improve bus services in Dhaka and there is absolutely no reason that high volumes of buses and high volumes of rickshaws cannot operate in the same corridor. Kunming provides a good example of high volumes of buses & NMT in the same street. Instead of talking about 'nmt free' what they should do is come up with good designs to accommodate the high volumes of rickshaws, as well as measures to better regulate rickshaws. If they need to ban anything from congested corridors, start with private cars (used for only a very small percentage of trips in Dhaka).
So don't be misled; it's not about buses. I worked on bus system improvements in Dhaka and the Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (under the previous executive director; maybe things have changed with the very recent appointment of a new ED) showed no interest in the topic. They want a metro and elevated road network. As for the real reason for this preoccupation with NMT free roads being driven by a few WB staff against a generally reluctant mayor and transport minister: it seems to be part of the general transport planning preoccupation of the DUTP in Dhaka which has been to improve the flow of traffic for the small minority of people using cars (around 7 people out of 1000 in Dhaka own a car; the 993 others don't) regardless of the consequences for the very large majority who are walking, using rickshaws, or using buses.
The good news, though, is that it is not too late to change this. Dhaka still has a huge majority of people using the 'sustainable' modes of buses, walking, and rickshaws, and most of the NMT bans have not yet been implemented. One of the very recent studies under the DUTP has recommended Bus Rapid Transit combined with rickshaws - including on the main arterials, not just as feeders to the BRT - and pedestrian facility improvements. The WB staff involved on their part have to their credit been open to receiving feedback on the 'NMT free' policy in Dhaka and shown a willingness to engage in a dialogue on it.
regards, Karl Fjellstrom
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 1:07 PM To: Sustran List Subject: [sustran] World Bank on Dhaka transport
Here is the World Bank position on Non Motorized Transport in Dhaka. Any comments? --Jonathan
Summary of NMT strategy under DUTP
A fundamental component of the strategy to improve traffic conditions and circulation in Dhaka under the Dhaka Urban Transport Project (DUTP) is the segregation of motorized and non-motorized traffic. This is achieved through the creation of a network of NMT-free arterial roads, where existing road space does not allow the physical separation of slow and fast moving modes of traffic within the existing roadway.
In January 2003 , the Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB) approved a network of 120km of main roads (about 6% of the total city network) from which it was proposed that NMT would be progressively restricted over the period up to December 2005. This core network is intended to provide for more efficient operation of motorized traffic, in particular, public transport services. It will also improve road safety for all modes. Integrated improvements on six corridors (about 50 km) within this network are funded under the Bank assisted DUTP.
An initial section of the arterial network was improved under the project and converted to NMT-free operation in December 2002, following a social assessment and stakeholder consultations. This 'demonstration' corridor (Mirpur Road - Gabtali-Russell Square) continues to operate NMT-free and is generally adjudged to have been a success, with higher vehicle operating speeds, increased numbers of buses operating and a reduction in the number of reported road accidents. The traffic police have been supportive and it has proved possible to operate traffic signals successfully over the past 24 months, with increased driver compliance and understanding in an NMT-free environment. No additional sections of the NMT-free network have been introduced since December 2002.
A comprehensive and in-depth impact study of both users and rickshaw pullers was undertaken by DTCB in mid-2004 through independent consultants to assess the overall impact of the conversion. Key results indicate that few difficulties have been experienced by users and that journey times in the corridor have been dramatically improved. The majority of users support the decision to move to NMT-free operations, as this reduced travel time by about 30% (8-10 minutes) per trip. Commuters using walking and buses reduced their transport cost, but it increased for others. There is a shortage of buses on the corridor, since bus owners do not find it commercially viable to ply modern large buses unless the total artery (Gabtoli-Azimpur-Press club) is made NMT-free. Reduced incomes were reported for rickshaw pullers as a result of the restrictions: those interviewed requested that Government provide some form of rehabilitation for rickshaw pullers prior to the introduction of the ban on NMT. BRAC (a leading NGO) is currently working with DTCB on the design of an appropriate safety net.
This approach has now been mainstreamed by the Government of Bangladesh in the National Land Transport Policy which was adopted in early 2004, after a fairly extensive consultation and review process. The Policy includes under Section 9: Policies for Dhaka
9.2 Non-motorized transport
9.2.1 A progressive ban on the use of rickshaws on major arterial roads will be continued. Rickshaws will be allowed to cross such roads from and to minor side roads at selected crossings.
9.2.3 To encourage rickshaw use in suburban areas, where the bus network is less dense and/or frequent, as feeder services to the bus network.
Survey and stakeholder consultations on the proposed next sections of the NMT-free corridor (the remainder of the Mirpur Road Corridor (Russell Square-Azimpur) and New Elephant Road) were completed in March 2004 through the Bangladesh Transport Federation. These indicate that if adequate and women friendly bus services are available and pavements are cleared and made secure, taking buses/walking would not create additional hardship for daily commuters, especially women as their commuting cost and time will be reduced by motorized transport. Separate interviews with bus operators indicated a strong support for the concept of expanding the network of NMT-free roads. It is evident that additional private operators are waiting and are willing to introduce additional new services on NMT-free corridors: the increased operating speeds make services financially attractive . The slow extension of the NMT-free network has resulted in some bus operators deferring their expansion plans.
DTCB had originally proposed to convert these next to NMT-free operation in November 2003. This was subsequently deferred (now planned for Dec 2004). The Bank has requested that in order to fully benefit from the transport infrastructure investments made under the DUTP, the next phase of the NMT-free network be initiated without further delay.
The Bank has also been emphasizing the importance of developing a network of parallel or complementary routes that can be used by NMT in order to mitigate the impact of the progressive restrictions on NMT using the main arterial network. The July 04 supervision mission was provided with a phased programme for the continued expansion of the NMT-free network, together with a proposed comprehensive network for NMT, some new dedicated NMT roads (or lanes), and a series of proposed NMT crossing points of the NMT-free arterial network. The mission stressed the importance of these alternative complimentary measures for NMT: in particular the provision of NMT crossing points of the arterial network have been consistently requested by representatives of NMT operators. Some 20 km of complementary NMT road sections and NMT parking areas associated with these arterial corridors, along with NMT-friendly junction redesigns and traffic signalling have been financed under the project.
Jonathan E. D. Richmond 02 524-5510 (office) Visiting Fellow Intl.: 662 524-5510 Urban Environmental Management program, School of Environment, Resources and Development Room N260B 02 524-8257 (home) Asian Institute of Technology Intl.: 662 524-8257 PO Box 4 Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120 02 524-5509 (fax) Thailand Intl: 662 524-5509
e-mail: email@example.com Secretary: Kuhn Vantana Pattanakul firstname.lastname@example.org 02 524-6368 Intl: 662 524-6132 http://the-tech.mit.edu/~richmond/