Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) modes are an indispensable aspect of urban mobility in India. Also known as para-transit or feeder service, it includes vehicles that work as a supplement to the public transport system by providing first and last mile connectivity. There are following two categories of IPT in India:
- Contract carriage services: flexible, demand-based services where the passenger determines the destination. These are ubiquitous in Indian cities.
- Informal public transport services: shared fixed-route services with intermediate stops for boarding and alighting. These are typically seen in small and medium-sized cities, which may not have any or adequate formal public transport service
The Intermediate Public Transport is also called informal public transport because of their ownership structure (individual owners) and lack of regulation and enforcement. With the high demand for their services, combined with the restriction in the number of permits granted by the authorities, many IPT vehicles resort to illegal operations to meet their expenses.
The legislative framework in India did not recognize IPTs until 2006 with the passing of the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) which acknowledged their role in the overall transport system. However, IPT sector continues to be largely neglected and their services are neither adequately acknowledged nor integrated with the overall transportation system.
However, the IPT systems require due recognition in enabling them to have an optimal role in transport mix. Are they only meant to fill the interstices of mainstream public transport or is there something more? They are in dire need of new models of regulation and reform, new ways of making them emission-free and safe. For not doing so can lead to a serious deficit in public transport services and increased dependence on personal vehicles.
Here’s hoping for a redefined shade of shared mobility so that they continue being the veins and capillaries of our cities.
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