In the list of tier-one cities in India, Pune holds the distinction of being the only non-capital (state or national) entrant. Quite the feat, considering the city, of 5.7 million inhabitants, exists in the same league as metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.
At the moment, Pune fares well in non-motorised and public transport (53% of mode share trips), but this trend could be easily reversed. City records show that as of 2016-17, Pune has 2.3 million two-wheelers and seven-hundred thousand four-wheelers. A worrying fact: Pune, with 1,260 vehicles per km, ranks second in terms of vehicle density among Indian cities. Hence, city administrators realised that pre-emptive measures for urban mobility is the need of the hour.
In the case of Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune’s twin city, due to the lack of effective intra- and inter-city public transport systems, there was a steep rise in private vehicle ownership. Which, if not rectified, would have stalled the immense progress it made.
It is these city’s inclination to take the road less travelled that helped them defy the archaic models of city planning and implement transport models that promote walking, cycling, and public transport. In 2016, Pune’s budget witnessed a paradigm shift in its transportation expenditure. Over half of the city’s transport budget, that is Rs 397 crores, was spent on sustainable transport initiatives. Pune’s effort wasn’t a mere blip, it furthered the sustainable transportation agenda by allocating 51% or a whopping Rs 534 crore of its 2017-18 transport budget for the cause.
Pimpri-Chinchwad is also gathering steam in its bid for large-scale urbanisation, but it has positioned itself well to build a sustainable transport infrastructure from the ground-up. Even matching Pune at every step of the way.
Rainbow at the End of the Tunnel
Despite a comparatively larger bus fleet, Pune’s transport system couldn’t resolve the deficiencies of urban mobility. In a combined effort, Pune Municipal Corporation, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, and Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited turned their focus on the bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
The rapid transit network, which was duly reviewed by the India Programme, was called the Rainbow BRT. It effectively utilised Pune’s bus fleet and network, while also improving Pimpri-Chinchwad’s connectivity to its twin city. Today, the Rainbow operates along a 50 km network of bus-only lanes and an additional 45 km expansion is on the cards.
Pune Walks the Talk
Aware that no sustainable transport model is complete without being wholly inclusive, Pune footed the ambitious Complete Street scheme. Designed by acclaimed design firms, with the ITDP India Programme part of the preparation team and offering technical inputs, the programme proposes 100 km of street networks that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. This was based on Pune’s Urban Street Design Guidelines that was prepared with technical inputs from ITDP India Programme.
The first phase—on JM Road and DP Road—has been lauded across the country, even winning the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Award and the Volvo Mobility Award 2017. Following on Pune’s footstep, even Pimpri-Chinchwad started the process of designing 75 km of street networks in the city.
With work speeding up on creating infrastructure to support pedestrians and cyclist, Pune, like clockwork, put forth the Bicycle Plan. The plan envisions a 400-km cycling network in the city. In 2017, Pune piloted a dockless public bicycle sharing system, with 4,000 cycles and is planning to go up to 8,000 cycles by March 2019.
Parking it Right
Maintaining its stance that Pune is for people and not for vehicles, the city administration heralded a new era of an efficient paid parking system. The policy, for which the India Programme provided support, introduces an efficient paid parking system and a management cell that oversees implementation.
Keenly interested in regulating parking management, Pimpri-Chinchwad has proposed a similar parking policy.
Road Safety a Priority
Taking a tougher stance on road safety, Pune’s Mayor conveyed the city’s commitment to improve road safety as per the WHO’s Brasilia Declaration. The city will look to cut down on road fatalities in a phased manner within a five-year period—5% reduction in 2019, 15% in 2020, 30% in 2021, and 50% by 2023. This resolve is based on a coordinated, dedicated, long-term and data-driven campaign, which is supported by both government and civil agencies.
Since sustrans is still nascent to India, the onus is on these two cities to ensure sustainable urban mobility practices are a continuous exercise. On that note we end with an excerpt from Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: