Pune is known for its large vehicular population with one of the highest densities of two wheelers in the country. Contrary to what is believed, this has practically nothing to do with the large number of vehicle manufacturers that are headquartered here.
Citizens complain of being forced to keep away from patronising public transport for a multitude of reasons. Pune365 spoke to a cross section of experts and commuters to understand the current concerns and take consensus on the steps to resolve this.
For the record, PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd) has apparently only 1400 buses to cater to the Pune and PCMC. With the population over 35 lakh, this is evidently inadequate. Furthermore, a large number of buses are believed to be out of service, under repairs and inoperable.
“There has to be a holistic approach towards the public transport system currently operating in the city in order to induce people to ditch their two-wheelers and shift to the public transport,” says Sujit Patwardhan, founder member and Trustee of Parisar, a civil society organisation committed to working on advocacy for sustainable development.
The current numbers of buses are not adequate to serve the population of the city but more than that, the authorities should at least maintain what we currently have. The currently available buses are so bad that the users are waiting to be able to shift to their own two wheelers. Ideally, the intention ought be just the opposite!
“The metro is anticipated to cater to the transport of 7 lakh people by the year 2031, as opposed to the PMT that carries 11 lakh. This shows how important it is to have a systematic framework before adding another dozen buses without even being maintained properly.
Almost everyday, we see more than 20 buses in the city that breakdown after travelling a mere 5 kilometres. This is because they are not maintained properly and are often parked on the roads where they are being tampered with.
“Yes, there is a need to add more buses yet, systematic planning should be done in terms of routes, frequency, parking and maintenance. We ought to focus on this, rather than building flyovers that only aid the private vehicle owners,” Patwardhan adds.
“Currently, Pune doesn’t have an efficient public transport in place. If I have to travel to the other parts of the city from Vimananagar, I will have to change two buses from different bus stops to reach my destination,” says Col (Retd) Shashikant Dalvi, an active environmentalist.
“That is the reason people are taking their own transport and using the taxi services. One has to wait for atleast 30-40 minutes to get a bus. Even If we only consider PMC area, for over 4 million people, there are hardly any buses.
Pune is an educational hub. Students will have to travel to their schools and colleges and if they cannot find a bus, they will shift to buying a two-wheeler for their commute.
“The Metro is hardly going to help solve this problem. We will have to travel to the metro stations to use the transport. What we need to keep in mind, is the frequency of buses and also the ratio of buses in relation to the population. If people do not get any timely transport, they will have to shift to private vehicles.
Also, there will be an additional 8-9 lakh of population to handle in PMC area, once the merger of the 34 fringe villages is completed. This will only add to the burden,” adds Col (Retd) Dalvi.
Sharing his grievances, Mahesh Singh, IT company executive says, “With the increase in the prices of petrol, I would rather prefer to travel by public transport and save money provided, it is efficient and on time.
Practically, I cannot afford to wait for the buses for 20 minutes and risk travelling in a bus that can breakdown in the middle of the trip. My boss won’t accept this excuse,” he adds.
“I have been travelling by bus for 2 years of my graduation, but now I bought a used bike, because it is much more convenient. Although it is not economical, it saves a lot of my time. Moreover, to travel to the city, I had to earlier take a share-auto and come to the bus stop to board a bus. This took almost all my time, and this time can be used elsewhere more prodcutively” says Jay Rai, a design student.
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