Skip to main content

Review of the Comprehensive Mobility Plan’s citizen survey

The Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA) is currently formulating the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) for the Chennai Metropolitan Area. This plan will serve as the transportation blueprint for the next 25 years (2023-2048). The objective of the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) is to establish a robust transportation framework ensuring seamless connectivity across Chennai, promoting sustainable travel modes, facilitating the movement of both people and goods through an integrated transport system, and fostering safer roads.

To ensure inclusive decision-making in the CMP, CUMTA has initiated a comprehensive citizen survey, available both online and offline. The offline survey targets households and the online counterpart which is available on the CUMTA website is open to everyone. The survey aims to gain insights into the public's travel patterns and expectations, fostering the development of a well-connected road network and tailored transport solutions for all. The questionnaire covers diverse topics including travel patterns, travel purposes, private transport modes, parking facilities, safety measures, road infrastructure, various public transportation modes and ticketing apps.

Emphasising Sustainable Transport

In alignment with the plan's objectives, the survey addresses the utilisation of sustainable transport modes such as the EVs and public transport. But, it currently lacks inquiries regarding infrastructure for walking and bicycling, which are the most sustainable modes of transport. The survey however questions areas for improvement to enhance commuting experience for private vehicle users. Given the prevalent issue of cities being car-centric, which hampers the adoption of sustainable transport modes due to inadequate or unsafe infrastructure, it's imperative to gauge public interest and willingness to utilise Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) modes. Addressing this gap can also identify existing challenges with walking and cycling infrastructure, crucial for enhancing last-mile connectivity. Enhanced last-mile connectivity also increases public transport usage. A study done in Delhi found that 65% of the metro users viewed last-mile connectivity as a barrier while 58% of the respondents said they would use the system if they had last-mile access. 

Ticketing Apps

In our current digital world, it is crucial to explore the usage of digital tools in mobility. The survey tries to study the same by questioning commuter willingness to use a single integrated ticketing app for all public transport modes and the usage of mobile applications for booking tickets, scheduling trips and tracking of public transport. The survey also inquires how often mobile apps are used for planning journeys for food, grocery, clothes shopping and other transportation needs. This might be helpful in tracking data of how familiar people are with using mobile applications on a day to day basis. However, the survey makes no  mention of government public transportation apps such as the Chennai bus app, Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) mobile app, and the CMRL mobile app. Inclusion of questions about these apps in the questionnaire would have provided useful insights about the public’s usage of government apps and how these can be improved. If government apps are well patronised by the public, they will be valuable sources of data offering travel patterns, peak hours etc, which can then be used to  further improve the public transportation network. These learnings can also be incorporated into future apps such as the single integrated ticketing app, to ensure its success. Additionally, enquiring the reasons for non-usage of mobile ticketing apps could also have provided further insights which are missing from this survey.

Public Transport

Regarding public transport, the survey covers areas such as public transport mode used, modal shift, transport modes used for first and last mile connectivity, duration of the journey, cost, waiting time and parking availability. The survey also solicits feedback on areas for improvement across buses, railways, and metros. However, certain options are biased, as they are only available to MTC and sub-urban trains and not for metro, assuming higher standards for metro stations, potentially skewing perceptions.  For example, improvements in areas of cleanliness & maintenance, lights & benches, lifts & escalators were not included as options for the metro. Likewise, affordability was given as an option only for the metro and not for the other modes. It's crucial to gather citizens' opinions on all aspects of infrastructure and facilities provided for all modes of public transport, since the public’s perception might be subjective. Furthermore, issues concerning disabled-friendly infrastructure need more explicit mention and exploration to ensure comprehensive inclusivity.

Trip Chaining

While the survey covers aspects like switching between different modes of public transport, it overlooks trip chaining patterns, which entail grouping trips containing multiple tasks together to optimise time. This practice, particularly prevalent among women, underscores the need for transportation planning sensitive to diverse needs. Due to this travel pattern where women make multiple stops, they end up paying more for short distances due to availing multiple single fare tickets. This is known as the ‘pink tax’ where gender discrimination leads to women paying more than men (though this is addressed to a great extent in TN by the free bus scheme for women). However, capturing this data could have offered information that could have potentially improved schemes tailored for women, thus promoting inclusivity. 


Citizen participation is indeed pivotal in planning processes, and the CUMTA survey is a great beginning to this. More careful framing of questions could have helped mine more data, avoid potential biases and ensure comprehensive coverage of all pertinent areas. The next step of course is to ensure that planning suitably meets public expectations, and that the survey is more than just a namesake exercise.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.