Pune promises to be the lighthouse that shows India the way forward. The city will be hosting the country’s first Urban Mobility Lab, a project involving the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) of the United States, and eight automotive companies. The lab would be developing innovative mobility solutions for Pune’s traffic, transport and road infrastructure issues. Solutions from the ‘Light House’ project would be tested in Pune before being rolled out across the country —Mumbai, Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Kochi and Bengaluru have been made scaling partners for the project.
It was in May last year that RMI, a nonprofit think-and-do tank that has worked extensively in the transport sector, and the Niti Aayog published ‘India Leaps Ahead: Transformative Mobility Solutions for All’. The Urban Mobility Lab came Pune’s way following NITI Aayog and RMI’s grand challenge. The urban mobility lab would support a replicable process for identifying, integrating, implementing, and scaling innovative mobility solutions in Indian cities. The proposed solutions, ranging from data analytics for public transport service providers to electric mobility services, would address six opportunity areas in Pune’s mobility system: traffic and parking management, non-motorised transport, public transport, intermediate public transport, booking and payment, and electric mobility.
Four multi-stakeholder working groups have already developed solutions for traffic management, parking management, non-motorised transport, and urban freight. If they can implement their roadmap, the city’s challenged transport and road infrastructure is set for a transformation.
Speaking at the launch of the lab, Jules Kortenhorst, CEO, RMI, said that “the transport models of the past are no longer tenable. It is time to reclaim the streets for the living and develop new ways of moving people and products.” Kunal Kumar, mission director (Smart Cities), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), said “Pune has more vehicles than people and unless the problem is tackled, the city will become unlivable. This is an opportunity for Pune to come up with innovative solutions”.
Anil Srivastava, DG, and adviser (infrastructure connectivity), NITI Aayog, said “while the solutions Pune came up with would lead to disruptions, they could set benchmarks for cities across India.” Durga Shanker Mishra, secretary, MoHUA, said “we will use inputs from the Urban Mobility Lab to inform our urban planning solutions and look to create more Lighthouse cities in Maharashtra and beyond.”
A few initiatives from the private sector would be taking shape in the coming months. Chetan Maini, co-founder and VC, SUN Mobility, says over the next year his company would be setting up Quick Interchange Stations that support the deployment of electric two- and three-wheelers in the city. Sanjay Krishna, founder, Lithium Urban Technologies, says his company plans to deploy 300 electric cars and 50 buses in Pune over the next 6-12 months, starting with a fleet of 50 electric vehicles. Brijraj Vaghani, CEO, Ridlr, says within a year they will be offering city residents the convenience of an end-to-end journey planner, advance ticket booking and cashless payment for all modes of transport.