Bottom-up plan to connect last-mile for Namma Metro in Bengaluru

The Station Access and Mobility Program (STAMP) offers INR 40 lakhs worth of research grants to mobility entrepreneurs and change makers for innovative last-mile connectivity solutions to the metro in Bengaluru.

As the last stretch of Bengaluru Metro’s Phase I nears completion, there are high hopes that the city’s commuting woes may finally be eased. With a Phase I network covering 42km and 40 stations, Namma Metro is the second longest operational metro system in the country, after Delhi’s. Work on the 72.1km Phase II has already begun. What now remains to be addressed is the mobility transition that needs to occur among urban commuters – away from a growing trend of private vehicle use towards modes of public and shared transport.

Part of the solution lies in enabling end-to-end transportation systems designed around mass transit networks such as the metro. The Station Access and Mobility Program (STAMP), launched by the World Resources Institute (WRI) India in partnership with the Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF), is doing exactly that.

As one of India’s first open innovation programs in the urban mobility sector, STAMP aims to nurture technology-based interventions that make it safer, more affordable and more convenient to access Bengaluru’s metro stations. STAMP acts as a city laboratory, drawing talent and ideas from citizens and the private sector for more forward-looking and sustainable solutions. While the program is designed to spur innovation in the urban mobility sector in Bengaluru, the STAMP model is replicable across sector and can be scaled to other cities.

A unique feature of the program is its focus on data-driven citizen engagement, rooted in the belief that it is metro passengers and local communities that best understand existing gaps and needs for improved connectivity. STAMP relies on primary surveys conducted at select metro stations across the city, as well as multi-stakeholder workshops with local communities. Surveys with metro passengers and potential users from station catchment areas revealed varying priorities, depending on the characteristics of the different localities- data from the MG Road survey indicated a high demand for robust pedestrian infrastructure while respondents at Baiyappanahalli emphasised feeder connectivity.

Workshops raise awareness about the need for last-mile connectivity among citizens, and highlight local requirements based on demographic or land-use characteristics in station areas. The Safe Access workshops bring together the native knowledge of engaged residents and local businesses with cutting-edge innovation from private entrepreneurs, technologists, and public sector experts. They are based on the five principles of safe access developed by WRI India, which cover such aspects of station connectivity as universal access, feeder systems, safety and security, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and parking management.

By providing a platform for interaction between diverse stakeholder groups, the workshops facilitate the creation of feasible solutions that respond to on-ground realities. For instance, while the workshop in Malleshwaram shed light on the mobility needs of senior citizens in the area, the one at MG Road focused on solving traffic congestion caused by the concentration of schools and colleges in the vicinity. In both cases, issues were addressed through the lens of last-mile connectivity to the metro station in question-Mantri Square Sampige Road for the former, and MG Road metro station for the latter.

Solutions ranged from the incorporation of medical kiosks to provide emergency care at metro stations, to the addition of special metro and feeder bus services for school students to reduce school bus traffic and congestion. Entrepreneurs contributed to the problem-solving process by determining potential innovation and business models in citizen-led solutions. They also had the opportunity to interact with government representatives, and residents’ and traders’ associations, to understand local needs and present their product or service solutions.

Mobility solutions generated at the workshops, among others, are now being channeled into the STAMP Challenge. The Challenge invites applications- from entrepreneurs, citizens’ groups, researchers, or any individual with an idea-for proposals to support improved access and connectivity to the Namma Metro stations. Research grants will be awarded to the most promising solutions for further development, and winners will be mentored by a network of industry leaders and experts in designing and executing a pilot implementation of their projects.

Through STAMP, WRI India and TMF hope to catalyse an urban mobility revolution in Indian cities, with multi-modal public transport systems that are accessible and affordable for everyone.

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