Improving Pune's infrastructure and social life

We are all aware of the the plight of Pune - bad roads, pollution, congestion, lack of footpaths, pathetic public transport, chaotic traffic. A much improved public transport would serve citizens of Pune well and reduce much of the above mentioned difficulties.


I request your opinion on the SB Road Bus Priority Proposal I have submitted to the PMC, submitted to PMC in Dec 08.

To collect views of people, I have created a web survey form. You may offer initial views by visiting this form here. This survey has only 4 Yes/No questions and a free text box for your comments / suggestions and should take only a minute of your time. However, before filling out the, please make yourself acquanited with the SB Road Bus Priority Scheme Proposal from the two part documentation below -


Part One of the proposal is available here - (2MB)
Part Two (FAQ format) is available here -
(1MB)


In summary, the SB road reportedly carries up to 58000 people per hour during peak time. Yet, this road is served by a fleet of 15 buses and 5 routes at a frequency of 1 bus every 46 minutes, worse if we take in to account the two trips per day made by the 6th bus route.SB road connects Aundh/Baner/Pashan with Paud/Kothrud/Deccan and many regions south of Karve road - none of these come anywhere close to proposed BRTS corridors. In fact BRTS corridors alone equate to just 10% of Pune's road length!! This proposal demonstrates that bus priority can be implemented on narrowest of roads and with route and frequency rationalisation, majority of Pune can be served very well with just 1000 buses.

Pune and the regions connected by SB road need better bus based public transport first and not the elevated road over SB road or indeed the short tunnels from Paud and Pashan to SB road. These measures will most certainly create another Nal Stop on SB Road by bringing far too much traffic from different directions on to SB road.

SB road, in its current state, despite carrying 58k people per hour is never congested or has no history of traffic jams. This is because there is only one junction of any significance on the entire road (Vetal Baba Chowk which brings small amount of traffic from Model Colony end, much of this areas traffic is shared with University road). Thus, the SB road acts almost like a via duct or an elevated road already. If it experiences any congestion, it is only at the University road end where the badly planned and executed flyover has rendered all exit / entry connections with SB road significantly narrowed.

As ICC Towers, residential blocks and 5 star hotels come up on SB road, many will be interested in visiting these facilitiess and an elevated road over SB road will only ensure that there is perpetual traffic congestion and jams under the much narrow roads under the elevated roads - this is experienced already around E-Square and those who have visited Mumbai would have experienced this in Parel area where an empty flyover connects to Mahalaxmi race course while narrow roads under the belly of the flyover are jammed as vehicles attempt to make way to the residential tower blocks and super markets built on adjacent mill land.

So please, do go through the above links and make sure to give 2 minutes of your time filling out the survey

Part one covers in more detail and is 31 pages long:
  1. Current state of SB Road – demonstrates sub-optimal use of available road space along side blatant abuse of an arterial road for parking Proposal – SB road bus priority scheme
  2. Extension of the scheme to BMCC, Bhandarkar and Prabhat roads as well as FC and JM roads.
  3. Law College, Paud phata and Sus-Pashan roads get a mention as well in the grand scheme of things.
  4. Route / frequency Rationalisation and overall mapping of North-Western Pune.
  5. Conclusions & acknowledgements
  6. The FAQ / Part Two also has several additional details and is 9 pages long.

My best wishes to you and your family for the new year. Lets continue our resolve to ensure the administration provides the right facilities rather than spend public money on irrational flyovers, elevated roads and tunnels. Please feel free to forward / share the above with all you can.


CMP: Critique of Pune's Comprehensive Mobility Plan

In Aug-Sept 08, the Pune Municipal Corporation part published the Comprehensive Mobility Plan for the city. The Plan was produced by IL&FS and presented by the Commissioner recently - Click Here to see the slide show that proposes to convert Pune in to a mega cement mixing bowl with elevated roads, flyovers, bridges, road over river, Metro, subways......


You can read my response to this plan which is full of contradictions by clicking here.

Rationalising Bus Routes and Frequencies in Pune: Pune can be served very well by 1000 odd travel worthy buses. Sadly this cannot happen due to the illogical and hap-hazard route planning in Pune. Effectively we have 209 routes with 1000+ buses offering a frequency of 1 bus every 57 minutes!! I have demonstrated the fallacy in the first of the two links below - Link 1 and Link 2. The second link actually shows the pathos by way of schematic representation of 30 of 209 bus routes in Pune followed by a reformed route map which offers excellent frequency without compromising on areas covered by reducing number of routes to nine.

In recent past I have followed up on the work on footpaths on SB Road. The original corresponednce leading to initiation of the work is detailed below the links to recent correspondence. Those intrested in getting hold of attachments sent to PMC with my recent communication with PMC may write to me directly.

Correspondence dated Dec 1 07

Correspondence dated Dec 2 07

Correspondence dated Dec 10 07


Previous communications:


On Why PMC needs a Whole Systems Approach:
This letter emphasises the need for PMC to become protocol driven and professional in its work ethos. The city cannot affoard to continue in its habits of ad-hoc, ill-planned and haphazard ways. Click Here to download this letter.


Pune's fate will be determined by its citizens:
I also wrote to the Commissioner about the general lack of footpaths. In fact the city is becoming pedestrian un-friendly. I complained in writing (with over 100 pictures) about the lack of footpaths on S B Marg. I was initially told by a sub-officer that footpaths with cycle tracks are planned and will be in place once a flyover spanning the entire length of S B Road was built (a 40 crore project). But PMC's track record for such projects is poor. Should pedestrians be made to wait 4 years for a flyover before footpaths are considered? Not deterred by this fobbing off, I wrote again, this time resulting in work order being issued for footpath work to begin on SB road from Sept 07. Click Here to download this correspondence.

I hope each one of you finds this encouraging and pick up every cause you can in your locality and proactively participate in shaping Pune.


Update on Public Transport Petition:
In May 06, a campaign an Online Campaign was started to demand better Public Transport in Pune by improving the Pune Municipal Transport (PMT) service.


The campaign is supported by over 1400 Punekars. Although Dr Uday Kulkarni made many efforts to seek an appointment to meet him in person, the commissioner (Dr Kareer) failed to provide a time. On 30 Nov 06 the petition was handed over to PMC Commissioner's Office. Despite this, when the commissioner failed to respond, I wrote another mail, this time questioning if 1390 Punekars can expect a response or not? This led to the commissioner responding inadequately, needing me to write to him again. The entire correspondence is available as a download.

The Petition was submitted with the article of Pune Caught in a Whirlpool and a CD titled Bus Priority: The way Ahead, Published by the Department of Transport, UK. A summary of the contents of the CD on Bus Priority is available as a download.


The resource pack outlines several measures that may improve bus priority. Unfortunately PMC remains stuck with spending money on only one option i.e. BRTS.

While BRTS is an excellent idea, it cannot and should not be considered as appropriate for any and every city. My thoughts are outlined in a short analysis: Is BRTS right for Pune?

Further to the above, I would also like to point you to a road layout proposal I have submitted to the Pune Municipal Commissioner, demonstrating how a 80 feet wide Senapati Bapat Road can be used optimally to enhance bus priority using the principles of bus lanes used in London, UK. Click Here for the proposal.


Pune's Traffic Problems: Can we solve them?

The pathogenesis of the traffic problems in our cities has many reasons. Lack of training, knowledge and awareness along with disrespect for other road users is just as important as failings of the authorities. I have made series of 17 video's available to help make it possible to create a cultural change in our road habits.

To watch these videos visit http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

The first video covering the concept of Blind spots is available below:



Click Here to watch 16 other videos

Current Online Campaigns for Better Pune

Improve Public Transport in Pune
Join Over 1400 Pune citizens by following 3 simple steps -
  1. Visit the Campaign page: http://www.gopetition.com/online/8517.html
  2. Read the petition and Click Sign at the Bottom of the Page
  3. Finally enter your details on the form at the bottom of the page and click sign.

To understand why this campaign is important, read the article 'Pune Caught in a Whirlpool - Can a Modern Public Transport System Rescue it'


Campaign 2: Say No to Balbharati-Paud Bypass

Support this campiagn by visiting
http://www.gopetition.com/online/8763.html

This Online Campaign has been started by Dr Uday Kulkarni, for more details visit http://www.rescuepune.blogspot.com/ or download an edited version here


NGOs / Groups in Pune

Parisar is an independent citizens' group working for Environmental awareness, education and action: www.parisar.org

Pune Transportation and Traffic Forum (PTTF) - www.pttf.net

Dr Uday Kulkarni's Blog on Stop Balbharati-Paud Bypass http://www.rescuepune.blogspot.com/

Nagrik Chetna Manch: http://www.nagrikchetna.org/

Better Roads: a group dedicetd and active in improving the quality of roads in Pune. To Join them visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BetterRoads/join

Articles on Pune, India

If Martin Luther King was a Puneite

If Martin Luther King was a Puneite, How would his 'I have a Dream' Speech be?


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of Pune. Freedom from the agony caused pot-holed roads. Freedom from the misery caused lack of footpaths. Freedom from congestion, pollution and the rattling PMT bus that never works.

Five decades ago, a great Indian (Ambedkar), in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Indian Constitution. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Indians who until 1947 were en-slaved who in the flames of withering injustice (from British). It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 50 years later, the Puneite is still is not free. The Puneite is still sadly crippled by the manacles of bureaucracy and the chains of selfish politicians. 50 years later, the Puneite lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. 50 years later the Puneite is still languishing in the corners of his city and finds himself an exile in his own land (waiting for the PMT to
arrive). So we have come together today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every Puneite was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to live cross the roads safely, the right to safe public transport and the right to living in dignity.

It is obvious today that PMC has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens are concerned. Instead of honoring this obligation, PMC has given the Puneite a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are innsufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this city. So we have come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security to live in dignity. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind PMC of the fierce urgency of now.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism (through projects such as Sky Bus). Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of degradation to the sunlit path of justice. Now is the time to lift our city from the quick sands of injustice to the solid rock of high quality of life. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the PMC to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Puneite's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating freedom from indignity. 2006 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Puneite needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the PMC returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in Pune until the Puneite is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of Pune until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom from indignity by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy (intellectual) which has engulfed the Pune community must not lead us to distrust of all civic officials & politicians, as their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We (nor they) can walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Puneite is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of social brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel (on pot-holed roads), cannot gain lodging in the comfort of good roads, well paved footpaths and good public transport system in the city. We can never be satisfied as long as a Puneite cannot get his voice heard and a Puneite believes he has nothing for which to vote (due to resentment that politicians will not do anything anyway). No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Pune dream.

I have a dream that one day Pune will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men live in dignity."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Parvati the sons of this city will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood and look at their city fondly.

I have a dream that one day the rest of Maharashtra, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice (after Pune sets an example).

I have a dream today.

This is our hope। This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our city into a beautiful symphony. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if Pune is to be a great city this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of Parvati. Let freedom ring from the Mula-Mutha.

Let freedom ring.

And when this happens, we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every lane of the city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of Pune's children, will be able to join hands and sing, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

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Paraphrased by Adhiraj Joglekar