Pune traffic mess worsens every day. Road infrastructure is woefully inadequate for 3+ million vehicles. But what exacerbates this further is the massive traffic indiscipline. And this traffic indiscipline/anarchy is growing everyday.
One key reason for indiscipline is the lack of enforcement. There is no fear in the minds of signal/one-way violators that they will get caught. Visitors to Pune from other metros in India, routinely describe the traffic lawlessness on the streets here as much worse than their home towns.
Many will be surprised to know – Pune has more vehicles than Mumbai! (Most of these being two-wheelers, which actually worsen the traffic indiscipline issues…).
The traffic in Mumbai is a lot more homogeneous (4/6 wheelers), while that in Pune is a lot more heterogeneous & chaotic (2/3/4/6 wheelers). 80+% of Pune’s vehicles are 2-wheelers, and due to their small size and flexible maneuverability, they are often the biggest offenders when it comes to traffic violations. Narrow roads in Pune also add to the problems.
Like in all other infrastructure and development areas, Pune has woefully inadequate traffic police strength for the 3+ million vehicles (AND growing at 1,000+/day!). Note, Mumbai has 3x (or more) traffic police personnel as that of Pune. (I am researching exact numbers… also trying to find benchmarks with other cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai…Any pointers would be appreciated!).
Instead of constantly blaming Pune traffic (I do too…) we should also lobby the authorities for additional enforcement capacity. The Pune Police have made these demands about additional strength at multiple points of time. The citizens of Pune need to lobby their elected representatives at all levels regarding this demand.
And yes, structural changes are needed in penalties (increasing fine amounts) and driver licensing tests…but those are medium and long term measures. Long term measures should obviously also focus on better public transit (and reduction in private vehicles…). But, short term for Pune, additional traffic police manpower is absolutely essential. Also, immediate deployment of camera based enforcement is critical. Wherever technology can help in better enforcement, it has to be actively used. Enforcement needs to done not only at signals but at random spots along the roads. Traffic violators should worry about getting ‘caught’ anywhere, and at anytime. Discipline culture will take a long time to build… it starts with fear of law: If you break a traffic law…you will get CAUGHT and FINED!
Six years and crores of rupees later, the ‘famed’ BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) Project in Pune has achieved nothing … well to be more precise – it has definitely made things a lot worse for all types of traffic.
I think Pune was the first city in India to start the BRTS Project – and what a pathetic role model it has created for others, that are interested in replicating this! Note – I am not against the BRTS concept…the key is proper planning & execution and ongoing implementation. And it here, where things seem to have gone horribly wrong.
This weekend, I was driving to Hadapsar (thankfully, I don’t drive there often) and again witnessed the utter chaos and anarchy surrounding the BRTS. There are no clear lane markings for where the dedicated BRTS lanes start/end. The lanes are not properly marked and barricaded at many spots. I could see absolutely no enforcement on who can and cannot go through the BRTS lanes. As a result – total traffic anarchy persists – many 2/4 wheelers were merrily going through the BRTS – some by intent, and some by the misfortune of not figuring out where the lane started. But there was no one to prosecute them.
Many buses were not using the BRTS lanes. And then there were those poor pedestrians – stuck in the middle, near those BRTS Bus-Stops! They had no proper way to get to and fro, from these bus stops (which are also pretty poorly designed). If you thought the anarchy couldn’t get worse, it does – at the signals! Again, no vehicles seem to have a clear idea of when/where/how to turn. And this scenario gets even more scary at night – with no proper reflectors, signs, etc. I can go on and on about this horrible scene, but I think most Punekars get the picture and have experienced it first hand.
How did we land up in this total mess? I am not an expert, but even a layman can attribute the current state of affairs to bad planning, terrible execution and atrocious ongoing implementation.
The scary thing is that now, PMC wants to expand this bad mistake to other routes. Soon Solapur Road and Satara Road will share their pain and misery with Alandi Road and Nagar Road. And there are plans for the PCMC areas as well.
It (and has been since much before 2007), is amply clear that Pune’s Bus Transport – PMPML is in a poor state. The buses are in a bad state of maintenance. Passenger comfort seems to be least of the concerns. There are frequent breakdowns. The number of routes and buses are grossly inadequate.
Pune is one of the fastest growing metros in the country and has one of the highest number of 2/4 wheelers per person. (higher than Mumbai as well). The need for good public transportation is extremely crucial. What is needed for Pune Public Transportation is: more buses, better bus maintenance, better passenger comfort, better routes, better frequencies, better bus stops and supporting infrastructure. Those many crores that have been poured into the BRTS could have achieved some progress, towards pursuing these simple and basic PMPML needs. Another area where substantial investment is needed is manpower and other resources for Pune Traffic Police.
Given what we have seen over the past 5 years – I think it is time for Punekars to demand some real tough decisions and actions. This mess has to be fixed. First, the expansion of BRTS needs to stop. Second – if in a realistic time frame (say 6 months), the current BRTS implementation is not fixed – then, the entire current BRTS implementation should also be scrapped. Let those badly planned lanes be opened up for the general traffic (including buses). Let us invest whatever budget that is earmarked for BRTS into improving PMPML!