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IRU All India High-Level Group - Taking India’s sustainable mobility mission forward


IRU, the world’s road transport organisation, launched an India High-Level Group in 2015 to promote sustainable mobility and improve the overall status of passenger transport in the Indian market. Over the last year and half, the High-Level Group has brought together various stakeholders associated with its mission, including key government agencies, in an attempt to move the country’s public transport sector in the right direction. We spoke to Dr. Kulwant Singh, Coordinator, IRU All India High-Level Group, to find out the Group’s progress and its plans for the future.

What is the purpose and vision of IRU All India High-Level Group (HLG)? What kind of progress have you made since its inception?


Initiated by IRU as part of its Smart Move Campaign, a new High-Level Group of leading Indian and international transport stakeholders was launched on 14 August 2015 during ASRTU’s International Conference in New Delhi. With the aim being to improve the collective passenger transport in India and to substantially increase the number of users of buses, coaches and taxis, the group is working out a common vision and recommendations on how to achieve this objective.


The High-Level Group counts on the participation of various international and national actors involved in the transport sector. The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are highly involved in the work of the group. Among members coming from India I can name the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), the Ministry of Urban Development, the Ministry of Road Transport, the Department of Heavy Industry, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the State Governments of Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Dr. Kulwant Singh


The efforts of the IRU-led HLG are focused on four main areas – urban mobility, intermediate public transport, electromobility and long distance bus transport. The group sees the great potential of electro-mobility as a sustainable solution to India’s transport challenges. The people of India need better bus, coach and taxi services that take full consideration of the environment. The group is currently shaping policy recommendations with this objective in mind.


UN-Habitat, NITI Aayog, the Institute of Urban Transport and other key stakeholders are actively contributing to the discussions and to the drafting of the final recommendations which are expected to be endorsed and presented during the group’s final meeting in May 2017.


As the Coordinator of the HLG, what would be your top priorities for the current year?


My top priorities for this year as the coordinator of this important high-level work are:


  • To finalise the HLG Report and to develop a road map for its implementation. To share this road map with the concerned authorities and other stakeholders for consideration, acceptance and implementation.
  • Both IRU and the Ministry of Urban Development have agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The signature of the proposed MoU between IRU and the Institute of Urban Transport (IUT) under the Ministry of Urban Development of the Government of India is an important agenda.
  • Have IRU become the Knowledge Partner of the “Smart Transport for a Sustainable Future” event as part of One Mega Event in Delhi from 10 to 12 May 2017 and of the Urban Mobility India (UMI) Conference in Hyderabad in November 2017.
  • Organise a dedicated workshop on the Future of Mobility with leading public-private stakeholders on 9 May 2017 in New Delhi to channel India’s vision in IRU’s global work on “Bus and Coach – Vision 2030” and “The Taxi of the Future”.

What are your expectations from the different stakeholders in the Public Transport ecosystem - government, STUs, OEMs, the public - to improve the overall public transport experience in our country?


Various members of the High-Level Group have been supporting its work from the very beginning and invited IRU to participate and present this initiative at different events. For instance, upon on invitation from the Institute of Urban Transport, IRU was present at the Urban Mobility India Conferences in 2015 and 2016. IRU was also the special guest of NITI Aayog in the High-Level Group meeting on Transformative Mobility Solutions for India.


I expect the various stakeholders involved in the IRU-led expert group to continue to support and work with IRU on different projects aimed at achieving sustainable mobility of people.


There is a lot of talk about 'sustainable mobility' in the country. What is according to you sustainable mobility and what should we be doing to move towards achieving it?


Sustainable mobility provides sustainable transport solutions to mobility needs through the introduction of transport systems that focus on access, safety and efficiency within the larger context of reducing the need to travel in urban areas. IRU’s efforts through its various initiatives, including the Smart Move Campaign, are making an important contribution towards a smarter and a more sustainable mobility. IRU’s efforts through its Global Partnership for Sustainable Transport have also contributed towards mobilising governments, the private sector and global transport stakeholders to accelerate progress on the sustainable transport agenda and the adoption of United Nations General Assembly resolutions on sustainable transport.


To further answer to your question, I would like to quote Umberto de Pretto, IRU Secretary General who in his Foreword to the publication titled “Contribution on Smart Urban Mobility for Safe, Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable Cities” said, “Collective short and long-distance passenger transport – by bus, coach and taxi – is the most dynamic and customer responsive part of the door-to-door mobility chain. It is the backbone of efficient public mobility and an optimal, efficient and sustainable alternative to the use of private cars, coupled with a unique door-to-door customised service. As such, these transport modes are uniquely placed to substantially contribute to achieving ambitious objectives for sustainable mobility. Involvement from the private sector is paramount to meeting these challenges and realising the objectives set at the global level.”


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