Last Thursday I got to visit our bus factory in Hosakote, close to Bangalore, India. Its the newest and most modern of the Volvo Bus plants. The engine and chassis frame is shipped from Sweden but the rest of the bus is built piece-by-piece in the factory. I was struck by the orderly set-up for the manufacturing of parts that make up the body. In the internal “super market” all pipes and sheets are orderly sorted in groups.
As Environmental Director, I automatically keep an eye on environmental risks and hazards, even if this was not the purpose of the visit. And, I dare say, from what I saw the routines and practical arrangement well meet the expectations on a modern automotive plant any where in the world. No doubt I and my Swedish Volvo colleagues have good reasons to be proud of the factory and our colleagues in India.
When travelling I mostly bring my favourite travel mates: Jogging shoes and my GPS/pulse watch. The latter comes in handy also when analysing the transports that I undertake between different meetings. This week for example I could note that the average speed to the factory was 28 km/h. And crossing the city was with a pace of less than 10 km/h. The slow speed results in a large environmental impact by increased fuel consumption of all vehicles that idles along in the queue.
My last visit to India was undertaken in February 2008. Since then a notable increase in traffic density has evolved. This was also the experience of my colleagues, they need typically one and a half hour to get to work in the traffic. With risk of being a true Besserwisser after just three days; I say, the public transports needs to get higher priority and status. Separate lanes are only rarely applied. BRT systems would make a huge difference to the congestion problems. The attractiveness of public transport can be improved further when cities offers a fast and prioritised service. High capacity bus services will decrease the congestion issues already with the existing infra structure.
But, consistentcy in the implementation is crucial for success:
-Separate lanes (with physical wall to exclude abuse by two and three wheelers)
-Priority at trafic lights
-Pre payed ticketing
-Access to bus stops similar to train (tunnel/bridge etc)
Before returning to Sweden I was invited to the Indian Institue of Science to give a seminar on our new hybrid technology. The seminar was hosted by CISTUP and organised by “Praja.in”
an independent public interest group. We had a very constructive dialogue about public transports, energy efficiency, high capacity buses, road infra structure and hybrid technology.