In Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, 96% of residents live within a 500m walkable distance of a bus network. But, as per Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) schedules, one-third of these residents don’t have access to buses which are available frequently – every five minutes. Therefore, a lowly 12% of the trips made in the region are via bus transit.
Though a five-minute wait seems ideal, this figure is an aggregation of areas with high bus availability and low ridership and of localities with low bus availability and high ridership.
This begs the question, what good are extensive transit systems which can’t ensure accessibility and high frequency. These are some of the key arguments the People near Transit (PNT) report, prepared by the ITDP India Programme, raises with regard to access to public transit and surging personal motor vehicle dependency in the Pune Metropolitan Region.
From time immemorial, cities have been built upon transit. Be it citadels built around trading routes to present-day cities with interwoven networks connecting residents to their place of work, education, leisure, etc. Hence, transit and accessibility to these systems remain central to the development of societies.
Indian cities have been growing at a tremendous scale. This growth poses many urban transportation challenges and though tottering, public transit has stood its ground as an indispensable public utility. But as the automobile industry’s clout grows, more motor vehicles, of various kinds, offer “freedom” at the cost of congested roads and choked cities.
Whereas, accessible, affordable, and frequent public transit offers a guarantee for mobility, which also furthers the economic and social mobilisation of citizens.
Basically, the PNT analysis measures how well a city provides transit access to its residents. The USP of the analysis is that it works on secondary sources to formulate the assessment. Quite handy for Indian cities, as most lack primary data on transport operations and functions.
To start off, PNT requires basic data like ward boundaries and their population to establish demand. Next, details regarding the routes, schedule, and station placements of various modes — such as bus and rail — help ascertain accessibility and frequency of these modes. These data points, in a digitised GIS format, find accessibility levels of public transit and identify gaps in the system.
In the last two decades, the Pune urban agglomeration, including Pimpri-Chinchwad, has witnessed a steep economic and population growth. The IT (information technology) boom orchestrated a massive migration to Pune city. This advent doubled its population, but it pales in comparison to the city’s vehicle population — which grew by 700% in the period.
Adding to the congestion is the issue of urban sprawl. A symptom of urbanisation, urban sprawl is when cities grow unplanned towards their peripheries. It is estimated to cost Indian cities close to $1.8 trillion per year by 2050. Presently in Pune, this outward sprawl forces 48% of its trips to be longer than 5km. And in situations where public transit isn’t readily accessible or frequent, many residents — of areas like Shivane, Pirangut, Wagholi, etc., — are forced to use two-wheelers to commute.
Many high-density areas like Dhanori, Kalyani Nagar, Warje-bypass, Pradhikaran, Talwade, etc., fall under the category of transit deserts. These are sections which do not have access to frequent transit — a public transit available every five minute — within a 500 m walking distance. Here’s where the “ideal five-minute wait-time for a bus” takes a hit, as accessibility (or lack thereof) to public transit trumps the former.
At the onset of this piece, we spoke about how mobility is key for the economic and social mobility of citizens. Now, interlay the situation of the lack of accessibility with the need of the people residing in transit deserts. There are breadwinners who struggle for hours in transit to reach work and back; caregivers whose daily regimes pivot around that one over-crowded bus and missing which throws the day into a chaotic convulsion of catching up; and then children whose means to education literally hangs on the footboards of these overcrowded buses.
In Pune region, work trips account for half of the total trips. As per the PNT report, only 62% of employment centers have access to frequent public transit. Key employment areas near Mundhwa and Bhekrai Nagar are transit deserts. While 40% of school-children don’t have access to frequent transit services to their schools.
Transit interventions best work when they take into account the needs of every citizen. Despite being capital-intensive, the much-anticipated Metro Rail project, running through the twin cities, will be accessible to only 10% of people within a 500m walking distance. Even with the Rainbow BRT (existing and upcoming), rapid transit is accessible to only 25% of people.
Now, with 23% of low-income sections not having access to frequent transit, investing in rapid transit projects with high-cost and low returns (or ridership) is a self-inflicted “catch-22”. Neither is the Metro accessible nor would it be affordable to a vast majority of the public. As for the BRT, the lack of fleet expansion and network limitations bottle up the system’s potential.
The PNT analysis has some concrete and well-versed answers to the twin cities’ dilemma of improving public transit that works to serve all. These are:
- In sections with low access to public transit, specific corridors can be introduced to intersect high-density areas and high-frequency corridors. Subsequently, PMPML needs to rationalise routes to ensure accessibility to frequent buses is uniform across the board.
- Running smaller feeder services, in transit-deprived sections, ensure residents have access to the PMPML bus network. By extension, it also helps curtail the dependence on personal motor vehicles.
- BRT and PMPML high-frequency routes could potentially facilitate multi-modal integration by connecting to the Metro — hence improving the latters’ ridership. In fact, fare integration would ensure footfall as these transfers would be affordable.
- Densification under transit-oriented development (TOD) will help more residents get access to existing corridors in the future.
- Low density areas in TOD zone need local area plans (LAPs) to ‘infill’ them with densities. Similarly, high density areas in TOD zones need LAPs to improve street network and public spaces.
- By adopting PNT as a tool in preparing and revising the development plan and identifying mass transit corridors, cities can ensure better integration of land use with transport needs for the future.
The PNT report provides a thorough glimpse into the current capacities of public transit operations in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. At the same time, the analysis can pave the way for interventions that can maximise the density of city layouts, accessibility, and frequency of public transit; while minimising urban sprawl, transit deserts. To conclude, PNT is an instrument for change that holds the potential to shape public transit that serves maximum and pollutes minimum.
Written by Rohit James
Edited by Kashmira Dubash
“Congratulations to Pune on taking this important step! If the going gets tough, always remember WHY the streets need parking management. The fees, the enforcement and the well-designed parking spaces are needed to make sure that parking happens in an orderly way, only in the right places and that it is almost never too full (so newcomers can find a space to park).” Dr. Paul Barter, Urban transport researcher, policy advisor and trainer.
The renowned parking policy expert’s words ring true: making streets inclusive and people-friendly is one of the biggest challenges cities face today, and a key part of the puzzle lies in a system we mistakenly take for granted: parking. In a laudable move, Pune Metropolitan Corporation (also known as PMC) has approved a public parking policy that aims to manage on-street parking through an efficient paid parking system. Ultimately, it will shift people from private vehicles toward sustainable modes such as walking, cycling and using public transport.
PMC heralds a new era of travel demand management by regulating on-street parking. ITDP provided technical expertise to draft the Policy. The Policy introduces an efficient paid parking system, an intelligent transportation system that facilitates payment, and the creation of a management cell that oversees implementation. The outcome – a demand-based parking system that smoothens traffic movement – is avant-garde in India.
DP Road, Aundh is an example of street design that includes clear parking spots
It’s widely known that private vehicles are voracious consumers of space because they require a parking spot at each leg of a journey- at home, at the market, and at the office. Streets are crowded with parked vehicles that block traffic and turn walkways into obstacle courses for pedestrians. A parking policy is needed to ensure that the frustration and hassle of parking is addressed sustainably and efficiently.
The policy proposes to regulate on-street parking by clearly demarcating legal and restricted parking spaces, in accordance to Pune’s Urban Street Design Guidelines. The street design guide, which was adopted by the city in 2016, sets standards for designing street elements and provides a collection of street design templates catering to the needs of all road users.
The policy proposes clearly demarcating legal and restricted parking spaces
According to the policy, parking rates will be determined across the city for both on-street and off-street parking, depending on location, time and type of vehicles. Pune’s parking policy has determined parking fees based on vehicle dimensions, parking demand at particular locations, time (peak or off-peak hours), and occupancy to enable a fair fee structure. Revenue from parking fees can help fund further improvement in public transport and parking management.
The Policy aims to be proactive in ensuring that parking information is available to commuters through various means (such as real time digital displays, smartphone apps etc.) to reduce redundant trips for hunting parking spaces. In a move to promote cycling as an affordable and sustainable mode of transport, the policy exempts bicycle parking from any charge. Exemptions are also extended to daytime ambulances, special-aid vehicles and paratransit parked in designated lots.
Once implemented, the policy promises efficiency to travel demand management in the city. As a significant step towards holistic and sustainable urban transport planning, parking management can help Pune become a ‘world-class’ city!
“Smart cities are equivalent to glamorous buildings where policies and guidelines form a strong foundation”, Mr. Kunal Kumar, IAS, Commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation. Over the years, our streets have been reduced to battlefields as people try to grapple with traffic congestion, lack of footpaths, and air pollution. One city that has taken bold, applaudable measures to rectify this chaos is Pune. Pune has been and continues to be an inspiration for many Indian cities that strive to reclaim streets for its people.
To explore Pune’s accomplishments, ITDP organised and facilitated a study tour for Tamil Nadu city officials – Corporation Commissioners of Erode, Madurai, Salem, Tiruppur, and Vellore, accompanied by engineers from the office of the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration. The study tour was conducted in collaboration with Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. (also known as PSCDCL) and Pune Municipal Corporation, in February. The one-day programme aimed to sensitise participants on the best practises of designing complete streets – streets with quality footpaths, segregated cycle tracks, safe pedestrian crossing and managed parking.
Delegates interacting with PSCDCL team at the Smart City Operations Centre
The delegates visited the Smart City Operations Centre that seamlessly integrates management and monitoring of the smart city operations. To the extent, “this system also oversees the energy consumed by streetlights in the city and alerts us when any light stops working”, explained Mr. Manojit Bose,Chief Knowledge Officer, PSCDCL. The team from Tamil Nadu marvelled at the Centre’s resourcefulness at data collection and efficiency in maintaining the city’s public infrastructure.
This was followed by a roundtable discussion, facilitated by Mr Kunal Kumar, Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation. Mr Kumar highlighted three guiding principles for a smart city: adopt policies that guide it’s existing and future transportation requirements, leverage multiple sources of funding, and build internal capacity. Pune has launched a two-year programme with Singapore Land Transport Authority to enable 120 engineers from five departments in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad to acquire the knowledge and skills required for the projects.
Mr. Kunal Kumar interacts with the Tamil Nadu team and shares his recommendations for the success of the smart city projects.
The discussion was followed by a site visit to Aundh-DP road to observe the seamless execution of Pune’s complete streets. Mr. Vikas Thakar, Pavetech Consultants, gave an insight into the implementation of high quality streets and detailed the design process of DP road. The delegates took the opportunity to experience Pune’s public bicycle sharing (PBS) system first-hand by cycling along the dedicated cycle tracks on DP Road. Pune’s dockless PBS system was proposed under the city’s Bicycle Plan which piloted 275 bicycles of the proposed total of 13,100 docked bicycles. The system received a great response from the delegates.
Tamil Nadu delegates testing Pune’s dockless PBS system
The delegates also visited a transformed public amenity space at Baner. Pune’s vision of creating recreational spaces has been revolutionised. Gone are the days when parks were the only public open spaces in the city. Underutilised and derelict parcels of land have been acquired by the Corporation and developed into theme-based amenity spaces. The two pilot projects in Baner are perfect examples of how cities can explore and catalyse the versatility of urban spaces.
Amenity space developed on the theme of ‘Art and Culture’ in Baner
Although smart cities are often synonymous with information and communication technologies, a city has to invest in human and social capital for improving the quality of life and achieving sustainable economic development. That is when it can truly become a smart city. And, after the exposure visit to Pune, it can be safely said that this is what cities in Tamil Nadu are aspiring for!
“I would gladly leave my motorcycle home and cycle at least thrice a week if roads were made safer!”, said Deepti Gokhale, a working woman in Pune. Granting her wish and that of many others in the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) General Body has approved a Comprehensive Bicycle Plan which envisages safe and convenient cycling conditions for existing and future cyclists in the city.
To transform this vision of a cycling haven into reality, the Plan provides several recommendations including the creation of a city-wide cycle track network, a public bicycle sharing system, design guidelines for cycle-friendly infrastructure, bicycle parking facilities and strategy for awareness campaigns. Its vision for integration with public transit prompts Pune’s citizens to use cycling for last-mile connectivity. With the Pune Bicycle Plan, PMC aims to improve the city’s share of cyclists from its current 3% to 25% by 2031.
Not long ago, cycling was a widely popular mode of transit, favored by most school and college students. However, today cycling constitutes a mere 3% of the city’s trips owing to congested, unsafe roads with over 500 motorized two-wheelers and cars being registered every day. In an effort to make Pune a cycle-friendly city again, the Comprehensive Mobility Plan, prepared in 2008, set an ambitious goal that “by 2031 at least half the trips in Pune i.e. 50%, should be by walk or cycle”. To meet this goal, PMC set out to create a Bicycle Plan for the city, with support from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and encouragement from Parisar, a non-profit organization lobbying for sustainable transport.
The Corporation appointed a team of consultants, including iTrans, Prasanna Desai Architects and Centre for Environment Education (CEE), to create the plan. The consultants surveyed over 11,000 people from various backgrounds for their travel patterns, views about cycling, willingness to shift, etc. A Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) was formed to oversee the progress of work, with regular cyclists and concerned citizens as key members. ITDP India Programme was also a part of the BAC and helped in periodically reviewing the Plan. Two rounds of public consultation took place before the drafted Bicycle Plan was submitted to the General Body for approval.
One of the primary objectives of the Pune Bicycle Plan is the creation of a 300 km network of bicycle tracks in the city. The fear of riding on roads with mixed traffic deters people from cycling regularly. Segregated, user-friendly cycle tracks, like the one recently constructed on JM Road, will help put them back on their bicycles.
A key component of the Plan to support the cycle track network in the city is the Urban Cycling Design Guidelines for cycling infrastructure, like the physically segregated cycle tracks in high-speed roads, the visually segregated cycle lanes in medium-speed roads, shared use of cycles and motorised traffic in low-speed roads, and appropriate vegetation. The Plan details the width and material requirements to enable comfortable conditions for cyclists.
The public bicycle sharing (PBS) system proposed under the Plan aims to serve as another mode of transport for commuters and provide efficient last-mile connectivity for public transit users. The Plan suggests 388 stations and 4700 bicycles in the first phase, with a proposed total of 13100 docked bicycles. A dockless PBS system, recently piloted with 275 bicycles in three different areas of the city, has received great response from residents and four vendors dealing with dockless systems have recently signed an MoU with PMC.
Apart from the policy and design changes, the Plan also recommends awareness and outreach programmes to rejuvenate the culture of cycling in the city. As part of these programmes, several discussions have been conducted with multiple stakeholders such as schools and colleges, RTO, Traffic Police, various NGOs, cycle shops and corporate staff (as a part of their CSR initiative).
The year 2018 will see various measures for the implementation of the Cycle Plan, like the setting up of PMC’s Bicycle Department, re-construction and retrofitting of select existing cycle tracks, and the development of a training facility for cycle mechanics. With many such steps in place – and in the pipeline – for the improvement of all sustainable transportation modes, Pune is becoming an incredibly ‘smart’ city indeed!
“The mode share of cycles, elicited from the household survey carried out in 2016 for the Pune Cycle Plan is 3%. This is a much smaller proportion as compared to the modal share of 2012 from Pune Metro DPR study which shows 9% of cycle as a mode share.”- Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, 2017
 Currently, walking and cycling constitute 32% of the trips made in the city
“Let us seize the chance for parking success without excess!”, world-renowned parking management expert Dr.Paul Barter concluded. The occasion was Park It Right – a 2-day parking management workshop conducted by the Pune Municipal Corporation, with ITDP as knowledge partner; in association with GIZ, SUTP and TUMI*. The event was a part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building & Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Participants included PMC engineers, officials from RTO & Traffic Police and representatives from various NGOs.
With the adoption of Pune’s parking policy in the offing and the city’s plans to implement better parking management, the workshop aimed at drawing lessons and inspiration from global best practices. Local government’s responsibilities regarding on-street parking management, regulation of parking supply under real-estate/urban planning powers, choices over city-owned off-street parking, and the relationship between the city government and private sector parking businesses were also discussed.
The workshop kicked off with Mr. Kunal Kumar, the Commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation, speaking of the city’s firm course towards sustainable transportation, with great joy and pride. Various initiatives to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport has ensured that Pune has stayed on track. Speaking of dissuading the use of personal motor vehicles, the Commissioner said, “managing parking is an integral and essential part of our sustainable transport planning.”
The tone of the discussion thus set, Dr. Paul Barter took over to explain the basics of parking management. While most cities perceive a supposed lack of parking availability on the streets, there is generally excess supply off-street. The solution is thus not supplying more parking; it is, rather, better parking management.
To understand this concept better, the audience was asked to participate in a hands-on exercise to simulate parking in a commercial area between 8 am to 12.30 pm. Two scenarios were considered: one with minimal parking fee and management, and another with higher parking charges determined by supply and demand.
At the end of Scenario 1, the participants observed that with poor parking management, high-demand spots in the commercial area were occupied by shopkeepers and office-goers for better proximity, leaving the shoppers and other customers without a convenient spot. With an appropriate increase in parking fee as per demand, long-duration parking moved to the outer fringes where the fee was lower. This freed up many easily accessible parking slots within the commercial area for shoppers and restaurant-goers.
Another key takeaway was that the city does not have to wait for visible improvements in walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure changes to implement parking management. Basic parking reforms can help significantly reduce the parking chaos on the street. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, where on-street parking pricing was introduced not as a means towards sustainability but to tackle congestion in many stretches, the parking situation has improved considerably.
The simulation exercise thus helped the participants understand that parking management starting with simple steps should be the approach to the “parking crisis”, instead of increasing supply. Presenting examples from Taipei in Taiwan and Seoul in South Korea, Dr. Barter reinforced this fact and helped the audience decide good parking management goals.
Best global practices highlight that the location and quantity of parking supply play a crucial role in the success of parking management. Dr. Barter stressed that parking, both on-street and off-street, must always be provided in tightly controlled amounts, and charged based on demand.
Applying these lessons to well-known localities in Pune, it came to light that the existing parking spaces could be managed easily without increasing the capacity. “Our cities should aim to eventually shift towards sustainable transport solutions. But even for a car-centric city, parking management is an essential step in solving congestion on the street and for better use of road space. Let us start now Pune!”, said Shreya Gadepalli, Director – South Asia, ITDP.
With the parking policy expected to come into effect soon, and the city taking measures to start on-street parking management, along with various NMT-PT friendly initiatives, Pune is indeed firm on its sustrans course!
*GIZ – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (English: German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH); SUTP – Sustainable Urban Transport Project; TUMI – Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative
“I bought an AC, now the government has to give me a free house to install it in!” If this is an absurd demand, so is free parking – “I bought a car, now the government has to give me a free place to park it!” Cities across the world including India, are gradually beginning to realise that parking is not a right; it is a commodity and should come at a price. In keeping with this revelation, Indian cities such as Ranchi have started implementing on-street parking management, with a parking fee.
Pune and Chennai are the latest cities striving to join the bandwagon. Pune will soon adopt a parking policy to guide parking management in the city. Pune and Chennai both aim to put a smart parking management system in place. There is now an urgent need to learn more about global best practices, especially challenges faced during implementation and solutions. In order to initiate this learning process, Pune and Chennai will host discussions and workshops internally and for the public in the following weeks, led by internationally acclaimed parking expert Dr.Paul Barter.
Today, unorganised on-street parking and invasion of pedestrian footpaths by parked cars is common of most Indian cities. On-street parking is mostly free, and even when charged, the rates are too low and fee collection is carried out by private operators with little monitoring or oversight by the government.
In Pune, open spaces have been converted into parking lots – including a mechanised structure – to meet the ‘demand’. However, prior to providing off-street solutions, on-street parking has to be addressed as it comes free of cost and is more easily accessible, hence is more sought after.
Realising this, Pune has tried to employ certain strategies to ensure that rampant parking doesn’t hinder movement of vehicles as well as people. The age-old “P1/P2” scheme has been incorporated in several streets where parking is allowed only on one side of the road depending on odd/even dates. Traffic cops have tried to ban parking on mobility corridors during peak hours.
Pune has also implemented a manually-operated “Pay and Park” system on some streets with parking charges of the order Rs 5-10 for four-wheelers for 2-4 hours. While this is the on-street scenario, many private establishments like hospitals and cinema halls charge upto Rs 50 for 4 hours of car-parking. All these measures have had mixed successes.
In Chennai on the other hand, parking rules and fees are administered on an ad-hoc basis, leading to a lack of clarity for users, inconsistent enforcement, and significant revenue leakage. The city experiences localised shortages despite overall availability of parking space.
The two cities are thus trying to solve the parking problem by better on-street parking management. The Pune Municipal Corporation has proposed a policy to manage parking in the city. The policy suggests slabs of parking charges, using the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand to determine the cost. It prioritises road space for other users – especially pedestrians, by dissuading the usage of any available public space (both off- and on-street) for parking.
Chennai has initiated the process of implementing a smart parking management system. Key features of the proposed system are parking guidance for users and real-time information of parking slot availability on mobile platform, an online digital payment portal to improve revenue collection and enhance transparency and an electronic enforcement system, among other things.
For parking charges, a zone-based system will be followed wherein streets are categorised into paid parking (medium to high demand), free parking (low demand) and no parking (since parking restricts movement) zones. Parking fee and fine will be determined by the Greater Chennai Corporation and Chennai Smart City Ltd. It is estimated that the revenue from the system only from bus-route roads could itself be well over half a crore rupees per year.*
In order to assist the two cities’ commendable efforts to deal with parking, Dr.Paul Barter will be visiting and leading discussions in both Pune and Chennai. Dr. Barter has offered his expertise along with necessary training in several parking-management projects across the world including Beijing, Kathmandu, Jakarta, Singapore, Mumbai, etc. He has published an on-street parking management toolkit as a guide for government staff in low-income and middle-income countries. His expert opinion and knowledge will add greatly to the parking management plan of the two cities.
Through their actions to tackle parking, Pune and Chennai are surely setting a great example for other cities that intend to create an urban environment focused on people rather than vehicles!
*This estimate is based on a parking fee rate of Rs. 40 per ECS per hour for bus-route roads.
Read the draft of Pune’s parking policy here: Suruvath: Public Parking Policy 2016.
Discover the basics of parking management and regulation in ITDP’s publication, Parking Basics.