Pune’s future: Metro, ring road, major traffic reform
Pune’s ring road is being touted as an example for the whole country. However, locally, on the crowded streets, what it promises is a complete redirection of traffic flow and better traffic managementUpdated: Jul 07, 2017, 12:50 IST
Is Pune battling against time?
Consider this: Pune is all set to become the largest municipal corporation (450 sq km) in the country. Its population will be 60 lakh by the end of next decade. It will continue to grow as an IT hub, manufacturing centre and educational spot, attracting sizable floating population.
Reality: It has a road network of 2,200 km. No efficient public transport. Increasing number of vehicles and narrow roads. Haphazard and indisciplined parking of vehicles eating out major portion of carriage width. Outdated traffic management and signalling system.
One would have little hope about the future, considering the prevailing situation. Metro and ring road are two projects, which have brightened the hopes of Puneites as they are expected to decongest traffic in the city. But the Metro will be operational in four years while the ring road will take seven years for completion. Questions arise whether the metro and ring road will improve traffic situation in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad? Secondly, what Puneites will do till these projects are completed as the period of five to seven years is not small?
Citizens do not have a choice. They will have to depend on the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) bus service, their private vehicles or hired taxies. PMPML is expected to add buses to its existing fleet and run more efficiently but it is unlikely to meet the city’s requirements. Only solace can be seen with the installation of smart signal synchronisation system for smooth and efficient flow of traffic, as promised by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in an exclusive interview to this newspaper. Work in this direction is in progress and is expected to be completed in two years.
Puneites were excited to see the balance time indicator system, which was installed about 15 years back. Firstly introduced as an experiment, it was installed all over the city in phases. But the balance time indicator was restricted to provide information – on how many seconds one would have to wait at a signal. It has always been a matter of debate whether this system, which is still running, served the purpose of traffic management. Talk of the town was how much fuel one has saved because of balance time indicator, instead of whether it has helped to decongest traffic.
Smart signal synchronisation system will be based on dynamic traffic as against the existing system of managing static traffic, as stated by Fadnavis. Retired director of town planning RN Gohad feels that it can provide a big relief to vehicle users.
“It is an everyday experience that we have to wait for the green signal even if other sides have no traffic. We waste not only considerable time in waiting for the green signal but the road, which is already crowded with vehicles, get further crowded, resulting into traffic congestion in nearby lanes and small roads in the area.
“Management of dynamic traffic movement is a new concept. Signal system based on static traffic is no more useful considering number of vehicles plying on the road. Management of dynamic traffic, which will be based on modern technology, will certainly help to reduce traffic congestion,” Gohad said.
Another relief can be expected from increased frequency of PMPML bus service. City engineer (traffic) Shrinivas Bonala said that a short term plan, drafted by the civic authority, aims at increasing frequency of PMPML bus service on major roads during peak and normal hours. “We have prepared a comprehensive traffic plan, which will take care of traffic management by the time Metro and ring road is completed,” he said.
Stringent restriction on parking of vehicles, which occupies precious carriage width, is also on the agenda of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). PMC is drafting a proposal, which will focus on discouraging people from using road for parking. Taking a clue from Mumbai, civic authority plans to charge for parking of vehicle and strictly implement ‘no parking zones’ on major roads in the city. Indications are that parking fee will be high enough, which will force people to take their vehicles off the roads.
Pune municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar said, “We are drafting a comprehensive policy, which may include parking charges. It will aim at bringing some discipline in traffic flow and reduce congestion.”
Simultaneously, PMC also plans to ensure that the margin space of building is used for parking. Most of the margin spaces everywhere in the city are used for commercial purposes like hotels and shops, which is not permissible. These spaces are meant for parking of vehicles, whose owners or users visit the particular building. Comprehensive plan will have coordination among various departments of the municipal corporation and the encroachment department will be asked to pull down shades in margin space. PMC, however, is yet to set up a machinery to ensure that vehicles coming to particular building are parked in the margin space.
Kumar said, “Only 15 people out of 100 use public transport in Pune, which is alarming. Ideal situation is 60 people out of 100 should use the public transport system in urban areas.” He is chalking out a plan under which close to 40 people out of 100 will use public transport system in the near future.
Will it be a reality?