Ms Susan Zielinski, MD, SMART, Michigan University launches CPPR Centre for Urban Studies  on September 2nd, 2013 in Kochi, Kerala. Through the focus study centre, CPPR offers to provide a strong solution base with a key emphasize on the mobility that influences the various urban infrastructure issues. Following this, a Mapping and implementation Workshop on New Mobility Grid was held in association with Corporation of Cochin.

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The Workshop was led by Ms Susan Zielinski, Head of SMART, the University of Michigan’s sustainable transportation initiative in the USA. The approach of the Workshop was developed by SMART to accelerate implementation of seamless, multi-modal, door-to-door, sustainable transportation systems in a particular region, town, or neighborhood. In this case, in Cochin it was done in order to address specific opportunities and challenges more robustly and efficiently within our rich context.

It started by “revealing the existing New Mobility Grid”, in other words the interconnected web or grid of transport-related modes, facilities and services that already exists in Cochin. It is an underlying network that users, and even leaders and operators, may not be aware of. The Workshop included representatives from Cochin Corporation, Kochi Metro Rail, Chamber Bodies and Resident Associations. The participants were expected first to identify the strong points and positive aspects, then to mention the gaps in the existing transport network in Cochin and share suitable information for developing Mobility for both the near and longer term future. The workshop aims at identifying the gaps in the sustainable transportation such as; bus services, pedestrian walkways, parking spaces, feeder systems etc which will effectively ensure less traffic congestion, less pollution and a vibrant mix of commerce and trade.

The workshop was followed by a lecture by Ms Susan Zielinski on ‘Urban Mobility-Challenges, Practices and Innovations’.

“Innovation is going around the world and we need to go beyond environment problem. Use Better transport options and for that we need more planning and thinking” remarked Ms Susan.She also cited how a public transportation should be like, ‘Transportation needs to be people friendly that should illustrate no difference between the rich and the poor, young and the old, able and differently able’

“IT is one of the major new revolutions in transportation. Literally it refers to information highway. There should be an integrated multimodal IT enhanced transport system. Now ‘Pay Electronically’ is becoming trendy. Even the app for women assures personal security with IT. The scope of IT is unimaginable,” commented Ms Susan.

“Where you are and what your city needs” is much important. The existing problems in transportation sector should be identified and introducing ‘share auto’ can be of great relief for the current transport dilemma in city like Cochin, observed Ms Susan

She also quoted how people in US view public transport, ‘In US, people between 18&35 really don’t need to get a car license or a car. They have access to more option. Status &identity is less & less related with automobiles; owning a car is no more a status symbol’

Cultural change leads to new innovation. The concept of ‘Stay home and work’ can make a difference in the traffic congestion. Also reducing the length of trip can make change, suggested Susan.

Susan pointed that Transportation is flat. In some countries most people either drive or walk; they have a mono culture. Where there are more choices, they are more connected. It shows the huge entrepreneurial opportunity for IT, developing app, energy conservation etc. It creates industrial opportunity also. All different kinds of people will be benefitted from this; more bicycles, boats and buses should be promoted. ‘Its’ not a supersonic jetpack; just doing smarter’, commented Susan regarding the new innovation in transportation

She also explained how Public Private (PP) innovation is another scope in the transportation sector.” We should look forward with new ways of doing government policies and partnership. We must be able to trap the business people who are proactive in such innovations” Ms Susan mentioned about the partnership with business community

She concluded her lecture by saying “Solutions don’t come together to serve the user. It should be a step by step process that involves the participation from all stakeholders like government, NGOs and entrepreneurs for a better planning. “

Read the news coverage of the event. New Mobility Grid Plan by Susan Zielinsky