By KRD Pravin
Population explosion is a curse as well as a boon for India. It is the second biggest market of the world. It is a strength, but at the same time it causes a scarcity of infrastructure and results in other infrastructure related issues.
Mumbai is one of the most populated cities in the world. In numbers, Mumbai is roughly one percent of the Indian market. Residents of Mumbai face many problems on a daily basis such as housing, costly health facilities, scarcity of open space, water supply, crowded public transport (local trains as well as busses) and heavy traffic on roads – especially during rush hours. The main contributing factor to these problems is the growing population.
"We are the problem" and "we struggle ourselves" to find the solution(s). The paradox is that there are many opportunities available a huge human resource is needed. But this great resource of humans constitutes the underlying problem – an imbalance between infrastructure and head count.
This paper focuses on the problem of overcrowding in trains and traffic congestion on roads. A measurement system is needed to gauge the impact of travel-related problems on "quality of life" since it is intangible. An approximate measurement system for transportation, therefore, is also recommended in this paper. This system calculates the overall impact of overcrowding and transportation on quality of life.
Whatever infrastructure Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) provides (or can provide) seems to be insufficient within just a few months. Roads cannot be widened beyond a certain width; the number of local trains cannot be increased considering in peak hours there are already local trains every three minutes. Due to these constraints, the problems of crowded trains and traffic jams arise and increase. Commuters' productive hours are decreased and result in the loss of business and personal human hours.
Some observations related to the problems of commuting are:
The problems, therefore, are:
It has been observed that during peak hours, each train is over filled by 3-4 times its seating capacity. And during peak hours on roads, there are frequent long traffic slowdowns or halts. These busy times are measured as follows: for local trains the percent full per train and for roads the minimum speed of traffic. This measurement system can be mapped to measure the effect of solving transportation problem on the overall quality of life of Mumbaikars.
By maximizing the suggested measurement specifications, a train can be filled up to 1.4-1.6 times its seating capacity and on roads, there should not be a complete traffic halt (apart from exceptional circumstances) and traffic movement should maintain a minimum of 25-35 km/h. A solution "fails" if it does not meet these specifications a minimum of 95 percent of the time. For calculating impact on quality of life in Mumbai, it is assumed that transportation problems contribute 15 percent to the overall reduction.
If the solution system works within specifications, it improves a person's quality of life by 15 percent. If the solution fails to meet specification, it is discarded and even better solutions are looked for, or if the solution is acceptable then the quality of life will be affected proportionately. A higher penalty, however, for not meeting specifications is appreciated.
The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) requires the identification of contradicting parameters and then converting the problem into a contradiction between corresponding generic parameters – one parameter improving vs. another parameter worsening. In this case, they are technical contradictions – the problem is with commuting. In terms of TRIZ, the problem is stated as – the volume of people commuting long distances wastes their time and the volume of commuters' causing uneasiness to commuters. (Note: the author considers the "crowd as a whole" as the "volume" of travels.) In other words, we would like to improve the movement (change in location, commuting) of people without compromising time and comfort. The problem can be written in terms of improving and worsening parameters as follows:
On mapping these trade-offs on the contradiction matrix, the following are the most popular inventive principles suggested to solve the problem:
Another aspect of the problem is that population growth is a physical contradiction – we need people to work and people are not needed because they create various infrastructure-related constraints. This physical contradiction can be solved using TRIZ separation principles, which also can be applied in conjunction with the above suggested solutions principles to reach better solutions (such as separation in time, space or conditions).
Using the aforementioned six principles for solving this problem, a few solutions can be suggestion and developed depending on the need.
Taking solutions 1 and 2 in conjunction, traffic jams and train overcrowding can be reduced further. If these solutions are tried, the target measurement specifications set forth can be achieved. These solutions will increase the flow of people in both directions, toward and away from South Mumbai, diluting the overcrowding in trains and increasing the average speed on roads.
Consider solution 1.5. If offices shift across the train stations from Churchgate to Borivali and Chhatrapati-Shivaji-Terminus to Thane with shift-wise office timings, trains occupancy will lessen and traffic will not be unidirectional, reducing the commuting problem. Borivali is situated in the northwestern section of Mumbai, at a distance of 33.4 km from Churchgate Railway Station; there are 20 intermediate stations between these two stations. There is a similar distance between Chhatrapati-Shivaji-Terminus to Thane (34 km) and there are 16 intermediate stations. People travel toward Churchgate or Chhatrapati-Shivaji-Terminus from all 36 stations. If various offices are shifted along the lines, the crowd movement will become bi-directional.
TRIZ is a powerful tool for inventive problem solving and it can help to eliminate contradictions. The author used TRIZ to develop solutions for improving the quality of life for people in and around Mumbai by examining one specific problem – overcrowding in local trains and traffic congestion on roads. If these suggested solutions are strategically implemented, the problem of overcrowding in can be solved to a large extent. The solutions can be refined and fine-tuned with further studies and feasibility tests. Depending on the requirements, these solutions can be scaled to implement in other cities such as Bangalore. In an extreme case, if solution number four is desired, a larger political-will and significant public participation will be necessary. The author expects every part of India can catch-up with the thriving Indian economy.
KRD Pravin received his engineering degree in Electronics form Madhav Institute of Technology and Science, Gwalior (MP) India. His major interests include learning and implementing new concepts. His work ethic does not come as a sense of obligation, but from the satisfaction he gains from completing a project successfully. He worked on artificial intelligence during his undergraduate studies and was published in the national level conference. At present, Pravin’s focus is applying TRIZ to problems irrespective of their field, simplicity or complexity. His experience includes networks development, teaching game theory, queuing theory and models in a management school and drafting/searching patent specifications and technology forecasting. Pravin is a registered patent agent with the Patent Office of India. Presently, Pravin is a working as a consultant with Breakthrough Management Group, India. His major areas of interest are TRIZ and Six Sigma. Contact KRD Pravin at krdpravin (at) gmail.com.