Electrifying Indian Commute⚡

Electrifying Indian Commute⚡

Indian cities today are one of the most polluted cities in the world, constantly ranking in the top 20 when it comes to poor Air Quality Index. With our ever-increasing population, this problem is expected to be more severe in the coming years.

Vehicular traffic accounts for more than 30% of the air pollution. Also, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels significantly add to global warming. To top it all, India imports most of its crude oil requirement, thus, increasing dependency on oil producing nations. These imports put significant strain on the Indian economy.

The only way to reduce air pollution and economic burden is to develop alternate sources of clean energy and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

Vehicular traffic accounts for more than 30% of the air pollution.

Electric Vehicle (EV) technology possess a significant potential to help address the current issues of air pollution and fossil fuel dependency.

Understanding this problem, the govt. of India unveiled the National Electric Mobility Mission 2020 (NEMMP) to address problems related to air pollution, energy self-sufficiency and to boost domestic EV manufacturing capabilities.

Another significant commitment towards the adoption of EVs was recently made with the intent to replace most of the current vehicles in govt. service with EVs by 2030. To incentivize the purchase of EVs, the govt. started the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) Scheme, offering subsidies ranging from Rs. 1800 to Rs. 1.4 lakhs for different types of electric vehicles.

The spend on EVs and eco-friendly technology is now considered to be part of the corporate CSR budget. This incentivizes corporates to use EVs for their employee transportation services (ETS). EVs also account for significant carbon savings, which can be of great value for a global organization focused on reducing their carbon emissions.

Electric vehicle is a boon for organizations aiming to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Even when the govt. is doing its part to incentivize the adoption of EVs, there is a larger role to be played by EV manufacturing companies, electric distribution companies and even by the common man of India who is the ultimate consumer of electric technology.


Electric Vehicle = Clean energy + Reduced fossil fuel dependency

EVs available in the market today are almost 2 times costlier than the regular ICE vehicles due to high battery costs. Also, most of them are limited by range and battery charging requirements, which limits their wide-scale adoption. EV manufacturers must try to solve this situation and make them more affordable if there has to be a wide scale adoption of EV technology.

The electric distribution companies have a much bigger responsibility, i.e. to ensure that there are sufficient charging stations available across geographies so that range should not be a limitation for EV adoption. Just like we have petrol and gas stations almost everywhere, electric charging stations or battery swap stations have to come up across highways to ensure that an EV is not left stranded in the middle of the road due to lack of charge.

Though the current range of most EVs (varying from 50-200 km) address this problem, having charging stations within a radius of 3 to 5 km could help reduce the range anxiety of the typical EV customer.

Last, but the most important part is to be played by the consumer of EV technology- the common man. We have to understand that pollution and global warming affects each and every one of us and caring for the environment is not just the government’s job.

The most important role to be played by the consumer of EV technology- the Common Man

The cost-conscious Indian consumer may find it hard to digest the higher EV costs. However, we must understand that investing in EV means investing in our bright future. We need to show our commitment to EV technology by buying or renting at least one EV per household so that the EV manufacturers and electric distribution companies are incentivized to work at a faster pace. This will further help create an EV ecosystem, beneficial for everyone.

A broader question for each one of us is ‘What kind of environment are we planning to bequeath for our future generations?’. Do we want to ensure a sustainable future for our future generations or do we want to pollute the environment so much that it becomes uninhabitable for everyone in the near future?

The current human generation is at an inflection point in the history of the earth. A choice has to be made by all of us for a better future for generations to come. And this choice needs to be made soon before it is too late.


Beating pollution, one seat at a time.

Beating pollution, one seat at a time.

There‘s a lot more heaviness in the air. The signs are ominous. Visibility has gone down and suddenly a lot many people are seen wearing pollution masks and talking about fresh air. The basic right has become a luxury. It is not surprising at all. While the months of November- December bring in the festive season, it also adds to its woes.

A recent research suggested that air pollution leads to a decline in cognitive abilities. Warning on the lasting impact of pollution on our health and well-being goes out almost every day now. Key causes range from the notorious crop burning in the north/north-west to the never-ending and ever-increasing vehicular pollution in urban areas.

There are so many reasons for the bad air that engulfs us – but the chief culprit is vehicular pollution. Delhi-NCR has 556 motor vehicles up and running, per one thousand people. That means there’s a private vehicle for every second person in the city![i] No wonder the air quality in the region remains under the “severe” category for several days in a row.

To make matters worse, PM 2.5* known as ‘fine particulates’ was recorded at 264 micrograms against the safe limit of 60 micrograms just 2 days before Diwali![ii]

Such fine particles are also known to trigger or worsen diseases such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems.

Shuttl, along with the Gurgaon Police authorities, recently distributed over 15,000 masks in Shuttl buses to help curb the impact of deadly air pollution engulfing the citizens of Delhi-NCR.

While solutions are being sought after in ways to minimize the effect of pollution, can we also reduce our car-dependency, and search for alternate options?

Perhaps it is a good time to shift to Shared Mobility…

A way that reduces our carbon footprint, city congestion levels, and all the related pollution is shared mobility.

Opt for smart buses which are road-space and carbon-efficient. Indeed, buses move a large group of people in the most efficient manner.  On-demand, smart buses offer safe and reliable commuting and while there were limited options like this before – they are now available for office goers!

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In fact, World Resource Institute (WRI), a Delhi based think-tank found that Shuttl produces an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, compared to a public bus, and is 10 times more carbon efficient than a private car.

Shruti, a young professional from Gurgaon, has already made the shift. She prefers a reliable and safe mode of commute over her car which she leaves daily at her home now. By choosing Shuttl, she is happy to do her bit towards a greener environment.

Commuting from Neharpar, Faridabad to Gurugram every day, here is what she has to say:  “Shuttl acts as a reliable commuting option and a safe group-based commute for me. I do not have to be exposed to the rains, smog, or dust that I used to face earlier. I don’t need to use my car or worry about parking. I am doing my bit to reduce congestion. I think everyone should try it out.”

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References

[i] https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/delhi-has-556-motor-vehicles-per-one-thousand-people-118031901217_1.html

[ii] https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/delhi-pollution-air-quality-remains-very-poor-situation-to-worsen-118110500069_1.html 

*What is PM 2.5?

Commonly written as PM2.5, it refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers. Since they are so small and light, there’s an increasing chance of humans inhaling them deep into the lungs.


When in Aizawl, ​do not blow ​the ​horn!

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Stuck in traffic and getting subject to the constant blaring of horns? On the road amidst chaos and being greeted by all the noises? Honking is one of the biggest causes of noise pollution. Drivers honk while commuting to display their urgency, frustration, discontentment, and displeasure. Honking has become an extension of feelings on the road.

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It is embedded in the behaviour and road traffic culture of our country. Despite various campaigns being run to avoid it, the situation has not changed in most of the Indian cities. Noise pollution can cause headaches, hypertension and various other cardiovascular diseases. In India, where the traffic movement is slow and chaotic, stress and irritability can cause hostility and even road rage. These risks are more pronounced for the citizens of Delhi-NCR and Mumbai.

A 2017 World Economic Forum report states that Delhi is the 2nd noisiest city in the world. It is followed by Cairo and Mumbai, ranking 4th on the list.[i] A recent study by Mimi Hearing Technologies GmbH- digital hearing app founders- found that “the average city dweller has a hearing loss equivalent to 10-20 years older than their actual age. Citizens of Delhi have the most, with a hearing age of 20 years older.” [ii]

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But, Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, has become the first Indian city to adopt a ‘No Honking’ policy. This is an organic citizen initiative and hasn’t been legislated or implemented by the authorities. Despite this, there has been a huge and positive response by the citizens who are responding to this change enthusiastically.

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What can we learn from this?

Noise pollution caused by incessant honking can be tackled in two ways. First and the foremost is to bring a behavioural change in the society where people consciously take the decision to shift towards no honking, as we witness in Aizawl. People respect and follow the rules and maintain traffic discipline.

However, sometimes honking becomes the necessary evil as road traffic gets bad with the excessive number of vehicles on the roads. For instance, the data collected till May 2017 from Delhi’s transport department mentions that there are 10,567,712 registered vehicles in Delhi. The majority of these vehicles are two-wheelers – 6,648,730, followed by the registered cars which are 3,172,842 in number. [iii] These statistics raise concern over the number of vehicles on roads and the ensuing noise pollution caused by them. As a result, there is a need to bring a structural change in the urban transportation.

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Shared bus mobility is the most efficient and environment-friendly way to move millions of commuters through congested cities and consequently, control the noise levels on the roads. A 2012 study by IIT Madras states that the average occupancy in buses is 20 whereas the average occupancy in cars and two-wheelers is only 2.2 and 1.2 persons, respectively. The study further mentioned that the buses are the most popular means of transport that cater to 60% of Delhi’s total demand.[iv]

Shuttl ’s app-based smart bus service is dedicated to providing shared mobility solutions to commuters. Shuttl’s bus-based model encourages a shift away from private vehicle ownership to equitable, affordable, and accessible smart mobility solutions. It also showcases the role of the private sector in contributing to and transforming the way urban commuters travel.

That is why increasing the role of shared mobility through the contributions made by both the public and private sector have the potential to make Indian cities safer and noise-free.

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References

[i]https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/these-are-the-cities-with-the-worst-noise-pollution/

[ii]http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Delhi%E2%80%99s%20ambient%20noise%20levels%20influenced%20by%20traffic%20flow.pdf

[iii]https://scroll.in/latest/839608/delhi-has-more-than-one-crore-registered-vehicles-data-reveals

[iv]http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Traffic-chaos-costs-Rs-60000cr-annually-05022017005017, http://www1.m.businessinsider.in/delhites-wasted-rs-60000-crorea-year-by-standing-in-traffic/articleshow/56981744.cms