#VinitasPune: Does It Take Rocket Science To Run Efficient Public Transport?

Pune Public Transport
Image used for representation only

 

Thanks to the continuing apathy of the ‘powers that be’ and the authorities, Pune continues to be denied an efficient public transport system

I’m in London and I’m a complete stranger to this city. However, London has made me its friend from day one, as I move around without any fear or inhibition.

It’s a big salute to this awesome city, which has such a marvellous underground metro system that is integrated with district railway lines and a bus network that every possible corner of the city is linked to.

I’ve been travelling from 10 am to 8 pm each day on this one ticket, that gives you access to all these citizen-friendly transport modes making me yet another happy tourist. I am in awe of the thousands of London-ites who can commute so quickly and efficiently.

In stark contrast, Pune has a terrible public transport system, thanks to the sickening attitude of the concerned officials for the past several decades.

As a result, private vehicles have grown in enormous numbers in proportion to the human population. Puneites are at the receiving end of traffic jams and congested roads.

Is it rocket science to build an efficient bus system akin to Mumbai and Bangalore? Presumably, it is for Pune!

Despite being one of the best cities of our country, it has rickety buses with at least 20% of them breaking down every day. The position of its Chairman & Managing Director the PMPML is questionable, what with most of the offficers not lasting beyond a year.

While there was hope that dynamic IAS officers like Shrikhar Pardeshi and Tukaram Mundhe would turn around the situation, they were transferred out in a jiffy.

Before Pardeshi left for deputation in PMO office in 2014, he had addressed a public gathering where he mentioned that that even by 2030, the Pune Metro is expected to support around 6-8 lakh passengers only, while the PMPML is handling over 12 lakh passengers as of now and is expected to support around 25 lakh passengers by 2020.

Hence, he stated even if 10% of the metro budget is allocated to them, it would significantly help in improving the  buses, its network and the depots.

If I may add, this is assuming that these funds were utilised right. 

Let’s talk about the BRT system. Despite it being pioneered in Pune in 2006, for the first time in the country, a decade later, it is in total disarray.

If you go to the Pune Smart City website, it says that the BRT is still in the ‘concept development stage.’  This, after over Rs.1500 crore spent on various corridors!

Besides, a hopeless BRT system where the same PMPML buses merely pass through this BRT corridor, they have become horrible death traps.

Activist Qaneez Sukhrani points out in a recent article in Times of India, In a worrying trend, accidents and fatalities on Pune’s BRTS corridors are becoming more and more frequent. To be blamed are the serious flaws in the execution of the project, which should have followed the globally-accepted scientific, logical and compliance norms. In the case of BRTS, there was complete non-compliance in terms of exclusivity of continuous bus-ways, encroachment-free footpaths and cycle tracks. These parameters were the basic requirements — as per the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) 2006 — to maximize speed, safety and service.’’

With a fractured and mindless public transport system with only 2000 odd badly maintained PMPML buses for about 68 lakh population (PMC and PCMC combined) vis-a-vis a Bangalore that has 6000 buses for its 90 lakh population, the city is now all set to get a Metro.

Yes, another public transport system is most welcome as long as it lives up to its commitment of being ‘international standard’ and integrates with other public modes of transport, as it has promised to do.

While citizens are excited about the metro coming to their city, the trust deficit in terms of implementation will linger until these promises are fulfilled by the Pune Maha Metro.

At a recent event, Union Minister of Road, Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari assured the city audience that Pune is never ignored (he reminded the audience that he had given it the Pune-Mumbai Expressway) and will not be ignored either..

Forget London, back home let us take the example of the Delhi Metro, with its 250 km odd track that is today considered one of the best metros in the world. Where there is a will. there is always a way!

Probably, Pune loser out because it has no political Godfather and.therein lies the tragedy!

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#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.

Vinita Deshmukh

Vinita Deshmukh

Passion for the written word that comes alive, not only to tell a story, but to speak out loud about all that's good, bad and the ugly in society...

That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.

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Vinita Deshmukh

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