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BW Businessworld

Smart Mobility

Instead of sitting for hours in traffic, the ride will become an extension of your home or workplace

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Every passing year, India’s burgeoning population creates an untold burden on the infrastructural setup of its already overflowing metropolitan cities. Car ownership in India is estimated to grow by 775 per cent by 2040. However, our cities are not equipped to handle this kind of growth. The transport infrastructure today is crumbling due to several bottlenecks including traffic, pollution and lack of parking among others. While the government and local authorities are doing their bit towards creating civic infrastructures including widening of roads and spiralling flyovers; the solution has to be multi-pronged where multiple stakeholders come together to work with the government to start thinking about creating mobility solutions.

India is already moving towards this future, one that is technologically enabled. Innovative platforms and businesses are creating mobility solutions that are closely integrated with existing infrastructure to provide last mile connectivity and hassle-free commutes.

While public transport was earlier seen as the obvious answer to our infrastructural woes, customer’s needs are evolving. They now want utilitarian services like mobility at the tap of a button. Last mile connectivity is what usually drives people to buy a car but what if we could give them this connectivity on-demand, merely with a tap on their smartphones? This is where smart mobility platforms come in. By offering citizens, convenient ridesharing solutions across price points, benefits of solutions like Ola far outweigh that of an owned car. And that too without the hassle involved in ownership — maintenance and parking costs for example. Additionally, by incorporating traditional modes of transport like the kaali peeli and auto-rickshaws onto a technologically enabled platform, we are increasing access to these alternatives for hassle-free commute.

While today, millions of single-passenger cars commute every day, the secret to decongesting our cities lies in ride-sharing for making optimal use of each of these vehicles. Ola has also ventured into the e-vehicle space in its efforts to provide sustainable hassle-free transport for all with the introduction of e-rickshaws and Ola Share. Shared rides and e-vehicles have far reaching benefits, helping us move towards a future with fewer people owning cars, lower vehicular footprint and reduced damage to the environment.

In terms of using technology for better use of existing infrastructure, we must explore solutions towards perfecting the process of estimating pick up and drop points and explore complementary options to online on-demand services like Ola Offline and 2G optimisation. Additionally, technology can be used towards enhancing the entire experience for the customer, be it in terms of seamless payment solutions or superior in-cab experience. Mobile wallets and UPI are gaining substance every day. With wallets like Ola Money, one would never have to fumble for change again.

In most Indian cities, commuters spend well over 40 minutes in traffic every morning. People in Bangalore spend over two hours every day in commute, translating to over $6 billion in man hours a day. With features such as Auto-Connect Wi-Fi and Ola Play being introduced into the market, the day isn’t too far away when a commuter will receive live information during his transit.

These technological advancements coupled with optimisation of infrastructure will help move the country to a future where a drive is not just a drive anymore. Instead of sitting for hours together in mindless traffic, the ride becomes an extension of your home or workplace where you can continue to do the things that you would do otherwise. Automated cars still seem further in the future. However, the increasing use of alternative fuels and e-vehicles is promising enough for a cleaner, greener future. While the impending future of mobility doesn’t exactly coincide with the shiny, flying cars of sci-fi movies, it will continue to form parallels with existing infrastructure to meet and exceed the demands of the future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Pranay Jivrajka

The author is COO, Ola

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