Category Archives: City Update

Ecocabs in Fazilka

Fazilka, a historical town and the district headquarters of Fazilka District is located in southwestern Punjab in India, about 325 kms west of Punjab State Capital Chandigarh. It is 405 kms to the south of National Capital Delhi directly connected with NH-10. Fazilka is 11 km off the international border with Pakistan

Ecocab is the name given to traditional rickshaw operation by improving its accessibility and quality.

In Phase-I, the effort has been to improve accessibility by initiating ‘dial a rickshaw’ facility for users. In Phase-II, the focus is on improving the quality of rickshaw to the use at same cost.

The underlying thinking behind the initiative is that the cycle rickshaw is one of the safest, most eco-friendly modes of transportation, also giving instant livelihood, but its usage has been declining due to high motorization. The basic idea was to strengthen the unorganized network of cycle rickshaw as a post modern technology in the area of Intermediate Public Transport System for Fazilka.

Nine Ecocab call centers have been established within the city to provide dial-a-rickshaw facility. Each centre is serving almost 1500 households. To cut down the vehicle out time, these centers are strategically placed along with a network of feeder sub centre so that after a phone call within 10 minutes Ecocab shall reach to desired location. This is mainly to facilitate household trips based trip to stop increase desired of personal motorised trip within the city; average trip length in the city is less than 3km, so it was easy to promote cycle based intermediate public transport system.

For society and users, the benefits are:

  • Organized Intermediate Public Transport System at affordable price
  • Saving of several hundred litres of fossil fuel and saving of 14500kg fresh air required to burn that fuel
  • Better law and order in the city-employment
  • Quality Ecocab service with modern ergonomically designed Ecocabs.
  • Another better option for residents as emergency healthcare facility like ambulance
  • Facilitation for visitors and tourists of the city

Over 500 registered traction men are self employed under Fazilka Ecocab project. For traction men (rickshaw pullers), there are several advantages:

  • Free Accidental Insurance upto Rs 50,000/
  • Free health checkup and consultation at leading private hospitals
  • Additional revenue through increased latent demand in Ecocab ridership and advertisement
  • Free education for family members of traction men
  • Micro Credit and finance schemes by the leading banks

The rules for the traction men are:

  • 30 Days Temporary Membership
  • After 30 days, with due approval of 7 Member Ecocab Management Committee Permanent Membership, with that traction men can avail all benefits
  • Rules like Fine of Drink & Drive, Dress Code etc which each traction man has to follow.

The design of the Ecocab in Phase II will incorporate the following:

  • Light Weight-Reduced Weight to 65 kg instead of existing 90kg
  • More luggage space
  • Better safety with reflectors
  • Comfort for both commuter and traction men
  • Facilities like water cooler and magazines
  • More advertisement space for more revenue

Some of the risks and difficulties faced are:

  • Through some marketing strategies Automobile industry may discourage and create taboo for not to use rickshaw and this may remain as vehicles for the urban/rural poor.
  • Political interference to decide over the revenue collected by rickshaw pullers (traction men) through pooling or advertisement
  • Biased and unplanned physical growth (pedestrian and cycle exclusive)of the city toward motor transport may result increase the size of the city and discourage people to use rickshaw for longer distances

An android app with Google Maps display Ecocab Centers for easier searching and which can provide a digital identification of the rickshaw operator.

The initiative has helped to organize Intermediate Public Transport System at affordable price. There has been global recognition of the initiative and Ecocabs or similar initiatives are being launched in other cities as well. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has itself recognized this as an ecofriendly mode of transportation and sent notices to the state governments to look into this mode which has the potential to replace carbon dioxide emitting motor vehicles.

For more information, visit and

Download Android App for Ecocabs

(Information courtesy Navdeep Asija)


Pune’s Transport Budget Analysis 2011-12

SUM Net member organization Parisar has recently done an analysis of Pune’s municipal budget, and in particular those aspects that relate to transportation investments and expenditures. Here are some highlights:


At around 30% of the total municipal budget of Pune, the transportation sector gets a larger share than important sectors like health, sanitation & slum rehabilitation together.

The country has formulated a National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) and the city has commissioned a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP). One would expect that allocation of money within the transportation sector would follow the principles of NUTP and attempt to achieve the goals laid down in the CMP. These documents have clearly mentioned their key focus as “mobility of people rather than vehicles” and keeping with this spirit, the main emphasis of CMP has been promoting public and non motorized transport in the city, and states that their modal shares should be 40% and 50% respectively by 2030.

Parisar analyzed the budgetary allocation on transportation sector in Pune’s 2011-12 budget. It emerges that more than 60% of the transport sector budget is allocated to projects which are motor vehicle friendly like building of new roads, flyovers, parking structures and re-tarring of roads. On the other hand, non-motorized friendly and public-transport friendly projects get only 9% and 18% respectively of the budget allocation in spite of including doubtful projects such as subways, skywalks, BRT (as currently implemented) and Metro (as currently planned). This clearly suggests that the city has not paid any attention to the guidelines of NUTP or the goals set by CMP while preparing its budget.



Mumbai … must follow NUTP principles

The newspaper Daily News & Analysis (DNA) dated 31 August 2011 published a news item with the headline “BMC: Useless to Invest in Public Transport”, largely quoting the Municipal Commissioner. Many of the statements seem unwarranted and contrary to the thinking underlying the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) —  “buying a car is the best solution for a person to meet his commuting needs and may also be better for the city”; “There’s little sense in spending hundreds of crores on public transportation, when a majority of the population resorts to private transport”;  (Urban planners should) “encourage private transport in a sustainable manner”.

SUM Net believes that the NUTP has correctly set the urban transport agenda by emphasizing the movement of people, not vehicles and requiring the focus to be on public transport as well as non-motorized transport. Given that even in the present situation a majority of urban commuters use public transport, cycle and walk, it is appropriate that public investment must focus on these modes.

The Ministry of Urban Development should take steps to propagate the National Urban Transport Policy and ensure greater awareness about it, especially amongst bureaucrats and elected representatives. The Ministry should also ensure that all Mission cities which have transport projects submit their Comprehensive Mobility Plans – this will bind cities to the principle of sustainable transportation through planned actions.

The Hon’ble Minister of State Shri Saugata Ray had announced at the last Urban Mobility Conference (Dec 2010) that cities would be mandated to report on the Service Level Benchmarks published by the Ministry. SUM Net asks that the MoUD follow up on that promise.

Cities in Maharashtra are growing very rapidly, and increased motorization is already creating huge problems such as air pollution, increasing no. of accidents and loss of open/green spaces to accommodate traffic. Congestion is increasing and will have a negative impact on the ability of the urban economies to grow. Statements such as those carried in the DNA article send the wrong message to cities, which will incorrectly try and provide for more personal vehicles, which will only make problems worse.

SUM Net requests the Maharashtra State Urban Development Dept. to create a State Urban Transport Policy along the lines of the National Urban Transport Policy and give directives to cities to create and implement Comprehensive Mobility Plans. The Urban Development Dept. should monitor the progress of these plans and also require cities to publish benchmarks which measure how well the cities are on track to achieve a greater share of trips by public transport and non-motorized transport modes. The Urban Development Dept. should also consider capacity building and awareness programs so that more bureaucrats and elected representatives are made familiar with ideas regarding sustainable transport.

If Mumbai does not take active steps to curb the growth of personal vehicles (for instance by creating a parking policy that acts as a deterrent for use of vehicles) the city will face deteriorating air quality, more traffic accidents and a further loss of open/green spaces in a futile attempt to accommodate more and more vehicles. Further, the city will end up investing more public money in infrastructure projects such as the ill-conceived Bandra-Worli Sea Link project, flyovers and more roads, which will mean less money spent on other badly-needed civic amenities. Projects such as these do not help solve congestion – something that cities in the West have already realized – and instead choke the economy of the city and consequently the State and the country.

Low cost measures, such as improving the quality of footpaths, by adopting urban street design guidelines, such as the one published by the Delhi Development Authority (, will not only benefit millions of pedestrians but also address the issue of last mile connectivity. Public bicycle schemes, extremely successful in European and now Chinese cities ( may also be considered by Mumbai.

As CEO of the financial capital of the country, the Municipal Commissioner should rely on professional urban transport planners to help create robust Comprehensive Mobility Plan and take steps to implement it. Urban Transport planning is a serious and intricate subject and should not become a matter of (misplaced) personal opinion.

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