Maha inks transport deal with US Federal Transit Administration

Plans to upgrade Mumbai's transport infrastructure are set to get a major boost following the signing of a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) between the US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the state government for the exchange of information and technology.Potholed roads, an inordinately delayed Metro, confused plans for a monorail and the ignored water transport project could benefit from the expertise and technology of the US agency. Even the dream of a magnetic levitation train, between Mumbai and Nagpur via Aurangabad, could get a boost. The MoC would not affect funding for the projects. FTA administrator James Simpson signed the MoC with minister of state for urban development Rajesh Tope. “While we will get expertise in developing innovative technologies, like signals automatically working on the basis of traffic density or integrated transport cards used by passengers for any mode of travel on a single day, the US will benefit from rare Indian technologies such as the traction technology used by the railways,’’ said Tope at a joint press meet with Simpson.Maharashtra is the first state in India to sign such an accord with the FTA, part of the US department of transportation, after the latter’s earlier agreement with the central government. Tope said the US had advanced research on inter-mode transport, safety, transportation of the disabled and traffic density-based signals. In the wake of planning for Maglev (magnetic levitation trains) and the Metro, monorail and water transport projects, the accord would help Mumbai and the state, he added.Principal secretary (urban development) T C Benjamin said the US would also extend technology on asphalting roads. Due to uniformity in mixing asphalt contents and road geometry in the US, they have no potholes, he pointed out. Additional metropolitan commissioner Milind Mhaiskar said that in the US, systems like the Metro are run ideally despite the fact that they earn less and have been developed without private participation. “This experience will help us make the Metro a financially sustainable endeavour in Mumbai through tariff fixation,’’ he added. Asked whether the public model of Metro development, as suggested by Delhi Metro’s E Sreedharan, was more feasible, Benjamin said the private participation model for Mumbai was a compulsion of the Centre. Other options of funding, through banks and government agencies, have not been ruled out for future lines.

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