Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Uber’s Free Urban Planning Tool, Movement Launched Bengaluru

As part of the country’s single largest comprehensive data-sharing exercise on traffic patterns to improve urban mobility in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, Uber today launched Movement in Bengaluru, following successful launches in Delhi and Mumbai.

Inaugurating the Bengaluru leg of this multi-city initiative, insights from Bengaluru-traffic patterns were showcased in the presence of Prof. Rajeev Gowda, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

Speaking at the launch, Prof Gowda said, “The Government of Karnataka has always been innovation-friendly and will definitely embrace tools that can help enhance mobility planning in Bengaluru. By providing insights into how people get around the city, Uber Movement has the potential to further support informed policy decisions and strengthen a data-led approach to urban planning. In this era of big data, we can extract information around traffic trends and help measure the impact of extended metro lines, first/last mile connectivity options, traffic interventions, etc. It’s good to see the private sector sharing its data publicly in the interest of solving mobility challenges cooperatively. I wish Uber Movement all the best.”

One case study, “Examining the impact of Metro on travel times in Bengaluru: Baiyappanahalli- Whitefield extension” uses data to calculate the impact of the eastern expansion of the Purple Metro Line in Bengaluru, comparing peak travel times from Bagmane tech park, Baiyappanahalli to Kadugodi, Whitefield between 1st January 2017 to 31st March 2017, against 1st January to 31st March 2018. The study points to a ~13.5 % increase in the AM peak travel time, and a slightly higher increase of ~16.4% in the PM peak travel time between the two periods, suggesting an increase in congestion on the route.     
The data observes a significant difference in the peak travel times during the weekdays as compared to the weekend, with weekday AM travel time being ~57% more than the weekend. Interestingly, the study also estimates that the average travel time in the first quarter of 2020 will be upwards of 57 minutes.

After a detailed analysis, the tool reveals that post the expansion of the metro line, there will be a ~21% decrease in travel time between the areas near both ends of the metro route, hinting at potential solutions to incentivize multiple last-mile and first-mile connectivity options alongside the metro to smoothen overall travel times.

Besides a reduction in travel time, there will also be an expected reduction in stress, noise pollution and carbon emissions in the city, suggests the study.  What’s interesting is that the data approximates a reduction in the cost of travel as well through low-cost last and first mile options as compared to that on-road, depending on the cost of fuel at that time.

Christian Freese, Uber spokesperson said, “Through sustained efforts by our mapping team, we have been able to gather large amounts of traffic and congestion data for Bengaluru. We are excited to launch this platform and its benefits for Bengalureans to encourage better infrastructure, city planning and data driven policy solutions that will utilize technology to make the city more efficient. Together with the government, civil society and other stakeholders, we aim to continue playing a key role in solving for urban mobility challenges in Bengaluru.”

Other data sets from Uber Movement reveal interesting insights on travel time during peak hours. Peak hour traffic in major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata almost doubles the travel time along some popular routes. Similarly, data reveals an adverse impact on travel times during festivals. The study showcased a 30% increase in travel time between Vasant Kunj to Lajpat Nagar during Dhanteras (October 17, 2017) in Delhi and over 20% hike in travel time throughout the capital.

According to an April 2018 study by consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) titled, “Unlocking Cities: The impact of ridesharing across India”, traffic congestion during peak hours in four major cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata — costs the economy a whopping $22 billion annually. Further, on average, travellers in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata spend 1.5 hours more on their daily commutes than their counterparts in other Asian cities during peak traffic times. In fact, peak-hour congestion, which implies the additional time taken during peak traffic to travel a given distance, in these four Indian cities is estimated at 149%, much higher than the Asian average of 67%.

"This kind of data from the private sector can help solve public problems. With our collaboration with Uber Movement, we are trying to do more than just putting data in the public domain. We will build tools for different city entities - Metro, BMTC (Bus service), BDA, BBMP and others, to help them make decisions based on the data too." - Dr. Ashwin Mahesh, Founder, Mapunity

“As cities grow, India is going to see a complete change in the way urban governance is conceptualised - it will require administrators and representatives at the municipal level to make ever more complex political choices on resource allocation, requiring data to make informed decisions. I see Uber Movement as an important, open-source tool to enable such decision making.” - Alok Prasanna Kumar, Senior Resident Fellow, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy

“The problems that India's overcrowded cities face are so vast that policy makers need to develop new frameworks built around analysis of data for better informing decision-making.  Uber Movement is one such platform for data, and with usage by administrators, I see it helping in identification of, and addressing traffic choke points in cities.” - Nikhil Pahwa, Founder, Editor MediaNama

“Uber Movement is first of its kind of an effort by a cab aggregating service to publish near real-time open mobility data in India. This will be immensely helpful tool for laying a strong foundation for data-driven urban planning and policies in key cities in India. With such rich data, we can together work and innovate to improve traffic conditions, safety, public transit, road infrastructure, curb air pollution and more.” - Gaurav Godhwani, Director & Co-Founder, Civic Data Lab

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