Transport in India
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Transport in the Republic of India is an important part of the nation's economy. Since the economic liberalisation of the 1990s, development of infrastructure within the country has progressed at a rapid pace, and today there is a wide variety of modes of transport by land, water and air. However, India's relatively low GDP per capita has meant that access to these modes of transport has not been uniform.
Motor vehicle penetration is low by international standards, with only 13 million cars on the nation's roads. In addition, only around 10% of Indian households own amotorcycle. At the same time, the automobile industry in India is rapidly growing with an annual production of over 2.6 million vehicles, and vehicle volume is expected to rise greatly in the future.
In the interim however, public transport still remains the primary mode of transport for most of the population, and India's public transport systems are among the most heavily used in the world. India's rail network is the 4th longest and the most heavily used system in the world, transporting over 6 billion passengers and over 350 million tons offreight annually.
Despite ongoing improvements in the sector, several aspects of the transport sector are still riddled with problems due to outdated infrastructure and lack of investment in less economically active parts of the country. The demand for transport infrastructure and services has been rising by around 10% a year with the current infrastructure being unable to meet these growing demands. According to recent estimates by Goldman Sachs, India will need to spend US$1.7 trillion on infrastructure projects over the next decade to boost economic growth, of which US$500 billion is budgeted to be spent during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan.
In ancient times, people often covered long distances on foot. For instance, Adi Sankaracharya travelled all over India. Walking still constitutes an important mode of transport in urban areas. In the city of Mumbai, to further improve the transit conditions for pedestrians, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, has commenced the construction of more than 50 skywalks, as part of theMumbai Skywalk project. Similar Footover Bridge projects have been initiated in other cities, in an attempt to facilitate the movement of pedestrians. The concepts of zebra crossing, footpath and right of way of pedestrians are absent in many urban and semi-urban centres of India, making pedestrians highly prone to accidents and fatalities.
Palanquins, also known as palkis, were one of the luxurious methods used by the rich and noblemen for travelling. This was primarily used in the past to carry a deity or idol of a god, and many temples have sculptures of god being carried in a palki. Later on, it was primarily used by European noblemen and ladies from the upper classes of society prior to the advent of the railways in India. Modern use of the palanquin is limited toIndian weddings.
Bullock carts and horse carriages
Bullock carts have been traditionally used for transport, especially in rural India. Thearrival of the British saw drastic improvements in the horse carriages which were used for transport since early days. Today, they are used in smaller towns and are referred as Tonga or buggies. Victorias of Mumbai are still used for tourist purposes, but horse carriages are now rarely found in the metro cities of India. In recent years some cities have banned the movement of bullock carts and other slow moving vehicles on the main roads.
Bicycles are a common mode of travel in much of India. More people can now afford to own a cycle than ever before. In 2005, more than 40% of Indian households owned a bicycle, with ownership rates ranging from around 30% to 70% at the state level.Along with walking, cycling accounts for 50 to 75 % of the commuter trips for those in the informal sector in urban areas.
Even though India is the second largest producer of bicycles in the world, a significant prejudice against bicycle riding for transport exists in some segments of the population, generally stemming from the status symbol aspect of the motor vehicle.In India, the word "bike" generally refers to motorcycle, and "cycle" refers to bicycle.
Pune was the first city in India to have dedicated lanes for cycles. It was built for the2008 Commonwealth Youth Games.