www.timesofindia.com | February 16, 2019
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KOLKATA: A survey among 1,226 commuters in Kolkata has given approval to trams as a safe, eco-friendly and economic mode of transport even as some respondents felt it needed an immediate infrastructure and technological upgrade and a larger network to cater to a wider population.
The survey conducted by Oindrila Dey, an assistant professor at Flame University in Pune and Debalina Chakravarty, post-doctoral fellow at IIM Calcutta, over a period of two months was carried out with the objective to gauge the perception of commuters towards electric street cars or trams, the significant factors determining the probable intentions of commuters in availing trams and scope of improvement to attract more commuters.
The pollution level in the city was at a record high this winter most of which the experts attributed to emissions by vehicles running on conventional fuel. Transport sector is responsible for about 25% of energy-related global green house gas emissions and 20% of energy use. Several commuters through social media tried to stress upon the government to reopen closed tram routes and invest in its upgrade to decrease reliance on vehicles running on diesel. The survey also indicates that though the commuters want faster modes of transport they do not want to compromise on their health.,
“The survey shows that trams are the only mode of transport that satisfy the four features of safety, being environment friendly, conservation of fossil fuel and minimum land requirement. the longevity of trams is over half a century compared to buses which last a decade or two which means the government does not have to incur a huge expenditure on trams. They can ferry more people compared to buses and give better mileage,” said Oindrila Dey who completed her PhD from the department of Economics in Jadavpur University.
It is not that the government is not aware of the hazards of emissions. Infact it has set an ambitious target of going all-electric by 2030 by introducing electric buses. Even the Bengal government has also commissioned a survey to introduce trolley buses that run on electricity. But this poses challenges of high capital cost, inadequate infrastructure for charging and higher fares.
“Kolkata has an existing solution in trams to the problem of emission. Apart from incurring huge costs on procuring electric buses the government can also expand the tram network, upgrade its infrastructure and introduce latest technology to make it faster and more reliable,” said Chakravarty who has been awarded with state scholarship to work as full-time PhD research fellow.