News & Notes 642:“Mobility, the joy of experimenting”
“Mobility, the joy of experimenting”
Under this ironic or provocative title, has been recently announced the end of the ACT shuttle service Auroville-Pondy starting from 1 April 2016. This unilateral decision, without alternative, will obviously result in increasing the number of private vehicles, especially cars, which are at present in India very affordable, like the oil they consume, which has not been this low for a long time.
Auroville is definitely a strange place. Aspiring to be a city of the future, here she turns resolutely to the past. In all major cities of the world, the movement is to minimize individual car travels and develop and make public transportation accessible. Some cities, like London, even prohibit the traffic in the city center to private automobiles. A recent statistic tells us that 50% of deaths worldwide are due to outdoor pollution. Auroville is not a metropolis, far from it, but the current situation of Aurovilian roads, most of which are extremely dusty, makes an increase of motor vehicles harmful to the health of its inhabitants.
This 'joy of experimenting', probably suggested to the imagination to find solutions to transportation issues in Auroville, must also be accompanied by a thirst to learn and get informed. Auroville is not on another planet, even if several Aurovilians seem to think otherwise. And what do we find in the world most progressive and innovative cities, in addition to emphasis on public transit? Self-service vehicles (cars, or bikes like in Paris' Vel'Lib or Montreal's Bixi, which has spread to New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, London, Melbourne, etc.), carpooling, trams, monorails, etc. All this can obviously be expensive, but in the long-term everyone gains by it. It is therefore imperative that resources be devoted to public transportation in Auroville. It is a matter of collective will, which will most likely get also subsidies from governments, sponsorships and private funding. As Mother proposed, it is time to take a joyful leap into the future, not to repeat past mistakes.