UMTA in the dog house

Decision on taking up of MMTS Phase II is pending in the absence of an unified authority on urban mobility. New rakes running on MMTS phase one routes in twin cities, in Hyderabad.

Decision on taking up of MMTS Phase II is pending in the absence of an unified authority on urban mobility. New rakes running on MMTS phase one routes in twin cities, in Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: File photo


Proposed common ticket card, urban transport development fund remain on paper

A Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) could have dealt with issues plaguing the twin cities like a common mobility card, road development plans, traffic signalling, pedestrian facilities, first and last mile connectivity and inter-departmental coordination for proper public transport infrastructure, among others.

In fact, Hyderabad was the first city to have UMTA as part of the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary way back in 2008 to improve civic infrastructure in the city and promote public transport.

However, the last time UMTA met was in July last year chaired by the CS and attended by secretaries in charge of Municipal Administration & Urban Development, Transport, Finance besides the top bosses of traffic police, Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Hyderabad Metro Rail, South Central Railway (SCR) and others.

Coordinated development

Among the proposals discussed then were the common ticket card with HMDA signing up with Ford India to find a solution for the same, an inter-city bus terminal on the lines of Malayasia’s Kaula Lumpur, progress of MMTS phase II, extension of railway line to Yadadri, BRTS, parking policy, re-routing RTC buses, multi-level parking, identification of accident prone areas and remedial steps and Pelican signals, among others.

As is clear from the above, little action has been taken on the ground with most proposals caught in a bureaucratic maze or inadequate funds. Ironically, the meeting also decided to strengthen UMTA to make it “functional and vibrant”, set up with its own Urban Transport Development Fund (UTDF) to speedily take up pending projects and hold “regular” meetings.

“UMTA was formed for namesake only with neither institutional nor financial support. Not even traffic fines collected in the capital are being funnelled into it. Ideally, any major decision with regard to transport and traffic has to be routed through it but none of the newly built flyovers have been discussed here while the comprehensive traffic study is still going on,” say senior officials, unwilling to be identified.

Share of MV tax

The seriousness of the governments about UMTA becomes apparent when just 12 meetings were held since its formation or about one a year! A proposal to surcharge a levy on fuel towards transport infrastructure development as was done in Bangalore was shot down but utilising 10% of motor vehicle tax collected in capital area was agreed, yet it remained on paper.

An escrow account in which 0.25% of the estimated cost of all projects of traffic and transportation undertaken by various departments was to be deposited was initiated but this too has been a stillborn. “None of the cities have a functioning UMTA anywhere in the country, so Hyderabad is not an exception. Cities have to be administered better as they are engines of growth, however, policy makers are oblivious to it,” they add.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:37:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/umta-in-the-dog-house/article30257746.ece

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