Volvo Sustainable Mobility Award 2012

I’m just on my way to leave India after two intense days. Monday the 30th of October the Noble Week in India started with the Volvo Sustainable Mobility Award ceremony in Bangalore.
The ceremony was honored by a number of distinguished guests, among them the excellences the Ambassador of Sweden in India, the former Ambassador of India in Sweden and MK Shankaralinge Gowda, Principal Secretary, Department of Horticulture.

Ms Gita Sen, Ms Geetam Tiwari, Mr. N. Manjunatha Prasad and Mr. V Sridhar were sitting at the same table as I. We all took part in the first panel debate. I enjoyed the relaxed and open format very much. As one of the outcomes, cited the day after in newspapers, it was found that the city of Bangalore (as one example out of many) is less and less there for the people and more and more prioritizing cars and other transports.

The award winners of 2012 were Embarq India and Indian Urban Space Foundation, Bangalore.

1, Embarq India was awarded for taking on the challenge to reform one of the major Arterials for person transports in Bangalore, the Hosur Road Corridor. The overall goal for this project is to reduce travel time by an average of 20 minutes for 275,000 people daily. The numbers speak for themselves. I want to strongly encourage the project to proceed the plan to the next level of implementation.

2, Indian Urban Space Foundation, Bangalore, was awarded for the project TenderSURE. The project secures a process for the planning and building of road infrastructure in India. As a member of the award committee I can readily admit that I at first sight overlooked the importance and wide reaching implications of this project. No doubt it has found a brilliant approach to the most complicated task of standardizing infrastructure.

I will have reason to come back with a more detailed presentation of the award winners in the blog. As it turns out the combination of the two award winners gives a most winning concept: one addressing the public transport side and one addressing the infrastructure.

Award winners were EMBARQ India and Indian Urban Space Fundation with Harald Sandberg to the left and the chairman of the jury MK Shankaralinge Gowda to the right.

After the ceremony we had a most interesting discussion at our table. How come that some cities are successful in reforming their public transports in a relatively short period of time, while other cities struggle for decades without moving forward? Many different approaches can lead to success but they all seem to have one thing in common (at least that’s the conclusion we came to): One strong person, a mayor or a transport minister, who is very knowledgeable and determined is required to set the overall target and to release the means required for change.

Unfortunately, I got a cold on the airplane to Bangalore and withdraw relatively early to get some rest. Next time I get a chance to exchange thoughts on city planning and public transports on this level in India I would very much like to discuss how private investments can be used to create a road infrastructure that actually do prioritize the citizens in priority order: walking, biking, two and three wheelers, buses, trucks and cars, with reserved space for each one.
Unrealistic? I would not think so. Have a look at the home pages of this year’s award winners.

About volvobuses

Adjunct Professor of Catalysis at Chalmers University of Technology. Lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, with my wife and three daughters born in 1991, 1994 and 1997. Is a passionate runner.
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