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Thinking about Transport in Pune

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The Transport system - and problems - in Pune are different Edit

   The  point of this note is that Transport in Pune is different 

from those characteristic of other cities and countries which are often used as a template in the design of innovative solutions - such as BRT, Public cycle-rental, etc.

The make-up of our traffic is different Edit

  • There are more pedestrians,
  • There are more cycles; cycles are used more for purposeful movement, rather than for recreation.
  • There are 4-wheel hand-carts. Some of these are moving; most are stationary. At night they too are parked, usually on sidewalks.
  • There are very very many more motorized two-wheelers. These are by far the bulk of vehicles on our roads, and there has been no study of how their behaviour can be modelled. The only comparison possible is with VietNam, where some studies have indeed been done.
  • There exist many three-wheelers used as taxis.
  • There exist three-wheeled and small 4-wheel commercial vehicles.
  • There are all kinds and sizes of cars.
  • There are many bus-sized vehicles, both public and private. Public busses have stops in the left lane.
  • There is almost universal use of sidewalks for other purposes than pedestrians, which makes most people walk on the road.
  • Vehicles - particularly (private) busses, and in commercial areas, trucks - are frequently parked on roads for long periods of time, thereby blocking a lane of traffic.
  • Areas near places where people congregate - even if only intermittently - such as Railway stations, bus terminii, temples or markets, tend to have very undisciplined parking behaviour, perhaps because a short-term disruption is ignored both by the police and the public.

What questions do these differences raise? Edit

What questions do these differences raise when we are designing a Transport System - specifically how do we design Bus Systems (even BRTs) or Metro systems for a city the size of Pune?

Some questionsEdit

  • When thinking about BRT on existing roads ("rights of way") in Pune, we must recognise that if we carve out specific lanes (e.g. two) in the centre of the road for the BRT busses, basically we are denying that much of the road surface to all other vehicles. This is possible, e.g. on the new (10-lane) Alandi road, but is hardly fair on Satara Road, or even on the Hadapsar Road, let alone on Shankarshet Road. (In Bogota, they have a much poorer population, huge wide roads, very few motorcycles, and no handcarts. Exclusive BRT pathways are feasible there.)

In general, in Pune -- except on new inter-urban expressways to new townships or suburbs, where we can safely ignore the existence of motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, handcarts, and all kinds of 3- and 4-wheeled commercial vehicles -- this reservation of large parts of the roadway system for BRT vehicles is not possible -- the roads simply cannot spare 2+ lanes from the roadway for a BRT. Therefore some other kind of "BRT" must be thought of.

  • Given the predominance of motorcycles in Pune, given their primary use for commuting-to-work and commuting-to-college during the rush hours (and for family outings in the evening) it makes sense to consider how motorcycle-based movement can be made safer. One direction of thought here is that we would like to make motorcycle-use for commuting-to-work less necessary. This can be done by providing long-distance routes by express busses, and to collect the originating passengers at bus-stations-with-parking. These nodal bus-stations can also have a number of shops and eateries, and function as change-over points for bus routes.
    • Problems will still exist at the destination, where we have to provide an alternative to the point-to-point (home to office) movement possibility which exists with motorcycles. In a place like Hinjewadi, the express busses themselves can stop outside the gates of each organisation. But in traditional industrial estates, where smaller enterprises exist on a grid of roads, it may be necessary to create a shuttle-bus service that continually services the industrial firms who are not covered by the express-bus routes. Such free shuttle-bus services are a frequent solution. One of the better ones is that in Palo Alto that goes between two railways stations and traverses the Stanford Campus and living areas.
  • Alternatives to BRT? BRT is fine for inter-urban (or urban-to-suburban) services. This could become a model we use for Pune, where increasingly new residential suburbs are coming up.

It has also been suggested already that upgrading of the regular bus services might be a change that would have a wide impact among users. This could mean smaller busses for congested city roads (shorter & narrower busses - 15-seaters), and also "Limited-Stop" or "Express" busses, much as they have been in use in Mumbai for over 6 decades. These would run on the same roads as before, with stops on the side of the road, but would be differentiated by colour to indicate that they would only stop at (say 5 or 6) places between the terminals. Ticketing would need to be thought about, so that passengers can transfer to and from "local" busses without requiring a fresh transaction.

Several new types of ticketing can be thought of: RFI cards - these need only be carried into the bus; no swiping is needed. Validity could be like monthly passes - but only between certain specific bus-stops or stations; else greater coverage & shorter validity - a day or a week, for all busses on some or many routes. Since these are to be recognised by computers on the bus, it possible to make the RFI cards quite flexible while maintaining a low cost of manufacture. (Renewals of monthly passes could be done on the same card.)

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