Monday Musings: Metro backed by political will; what about PMPML?
Work on the Pune Metro project has been moving quite swiftly over the last one-and-half years, if not more.
There is speed and momentum in the project execution. Pillars are being constructed and pre-cast girders placed on them along the route; underground tunnelling has been initiated and the PMPML depots being shifted to facilitate construction activity.
Solid, irreversible infrastructure is being created for Pune which can only grow in the coming years and not shrink. The metro as a utility to transport the masses is a given and the fact is that this project should have been initiated in Pune a decade ago, if not more.
The government’s drive and commitment to get the metro up and running is unmistakable, especially as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a commitment that a 12 km route will become operational by end, 2019. It is political will that is moving this project, with quick decisions, availability of resources and execution on the ground.
Why is the same drive and commitment not visible when it comes to the state of the city’s bus service? Had there been the same kind of commitment to give Pune an excellent bus service, the excitement in the PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd) would have been similar to what once sees in the metro project today.
This would have meant the arrival of a 1,000 to 2,000 buses in a phased manner, completion of the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) routes, creation of spanking new bus depots and parking bays; phasing out of old, worn out buses; and the recruitment of additional staff as necessary, all smartly dressed.
We are seeing all of this happening with the Metro project; why is the same not being done with the PMPML. Had the government decided to pay as much attention to the PMPML, the picture would have been far different from that of the present day where an IAS officer is struggling to make the bus service run. PMPML brings to mind its shabby, poorly maintained buses, grossly inadequate fleet and frequent breakdowns in different parts of the city.
Given the fact that Pune is heavily dependent on personalised transport with virtually every family being forced to purchase two to three vehicles, improving the city’s bus service should have been given the highest priority.
One does not deny the need for the metro in view of the manner in which Pune has expanded from end-to-end in all directions. The Metro is indeed the need of the hour, and hopefully, all the routes will be viable, transporting a large mass of the population as is being done successful in other cities.
However, the Metro needs a robust feeder service in the form of a bus service to bring people to and carry them away from the metro stations. There cannot be a complete transport solution for the city without an efficient bus service. This is what continues to be missing in the case of Pune, even as we residents suffer in the miserable traffic congestions, day in and day out, in our personalised vehicles.