It is a city on the move but it just cannot get its mobility issues right. Pune has everything going for itself. There’s growth in the manufacturing, IT and ITeS industries. The city is attracting FDI and it’s real estate is booming. Above all, it is becoming a magnet for talent from across the country. But the problem is that Pune has failed to provide its growing population an efficient way to move around—be it roads, rail or even airways. There is a logjam in every mode of transport barring the expressway to Mumbai. It is because of this that Maharashtra’s second-largest city’s progress report looks grim and certainly not befitting the city’s aspiration of becoming a metropolitan city. The seventh-largest city in the country has so far failed to meet the growing mobility needs of its citizens.
Pune has a public road transport system that is completely inadequate and fails to meet the requirements of the millions dependent on it. The experiment with BRTS—bus rapid transport system that segregates traffic with bus-only lanes—failed and has no takers now, thanks to a botched execution. The public transport body has failed to acquire the requisite number of buses to keep even the existing transport system running. There is a need to double the bus count on roads but the elected civic members continue to debate whether they should have buses with doors on one side or both sides. Meanwhile, the queues on bus stands are wilting as many move towards privately owned modes of transport. The share of two- and four-wheelers on Pune roads is close to 70%, while buses account for less than 2%. The city’s limited road space is getting increasingly clogged and navigating this space is becoming increasingly nightmarish.
Plans for a high-capacity mass transport systems for the city have been in the making for over a decade. For a few years, Pune romanced with Konkan Railways’ sky bus metro system but this was abandoned after extended debate. The next plan is to introduce a metro rail based on a report from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. But this too appears to be headed the BRTS way, with bungling aplenty. There is no consensus on how to build the metro—overground or underground, standard gauge or broad gauge, this route or that. And then there are the funding issues—these would make for another story.
As for rail connectivity, links have been at