It has only recently been introduced and just covers a small part of Shillong but STEMS, the Sustainable Transport and Efficient Mobility Society, which runs the nascent school bus system in the state capital, has netted Shillong an award for ‘City with the Best Record of Public Involvement in its Transport Planning’
The award was given out on the occasion of the 16th Urban Mobility India Conference and Expo 2023, held from October 27 to 29 in New Delhi.
CEO of STEMS and Secretary to the state government, Isawanda Laloo, received the award from the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Manoj Joshi, today.
Other cities that received awards under different categories in the event included Delhi, Lucknow, Srinagar, Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Jabalpur.
This is the first national recognition that STEMS has received, Laloo said in a release. The society and its accompanying project was conceptualised in 2021
Thirty school buses were part of the pilot project, which was aimed at reducing Shillong’s notoriously bad traffic in key educational zones. The buses come equipped with CCTVs and utilise GPS tracking to give real-time updates to parents. Each of the buses is staffed with trained caretakers and routes were designed after multiple rounds of consultations with public and government stakeholders.
The implementing partners of STEMS include the Meghalaya Transport Corporation, NIC Meghalaya and NIC Uttarakhand, with close assistance from Shillong Traffic Police and the Public Works Department (Roads).
STEMS bagged the award, Laloo said, for its “exemplary involvement of various stakeholders, most notably, community members, school authorities and parents apart from exhaustive consultations with government departments”, like the East Khasi Hills district administration, STP, PWD, MTC and others while planning and designing the intervention.
The project is aimed to benefit the citizens of the city, who generally spend 70 minutes on average in traffic snarls daily. With the increase in student registration, the introduction of multiple routes and increased awareness of the project, it is expected that the rollout of the entire fleet will significantly reduce the congestion on the roads while also ensuring a safe and comfortable commute for students.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma wrote about the award on social media, saying, “Congratulations to the STEMS team and our gratitude to all the stakeholders for taking part in the initiative.”