Pranjali Deshpande-Agashe is the programme director of the Institute of Transport and Development Policy, a global organisation which helps the government come up with sustainable transport policies. In an interview with Partha Sarathi Biswas, Deshpande-Agashe, whose team had helped in the launch of the Rainbow Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), says instead of a standalone solution, the holistic transportation needs of Pune should be addressed. Excerpts:
Will a Metro rail network turn out to be the solution to Pune’s traffic woes?
Any Indian city needs a mass transportation system which will cater to its needs. The final decision on the solution should depend on the cost of the project and the effect it would have on the urban design and aesthetics of the city. If Metro and the BRT are compared, the later would obviously be cheaper and hence it can provide a wider network with a lower cost. Also, between an underground Metro and an elevated one, the former would be costlier. However, the elevated Metro will affect the urban design and aesthetics of the city. The decision will depend on the availability of funds and other associated parameters.
How feasible are the two routes? What are the grey areas?
The Vanaz to Ramwadi route overlaps a proposed BRT route and hence it would have been easier as well as cheaper to make Nagar road BRT stronger and more attractive. It is important to understand the fact that the hybrid Rainbow RT system gives flexibility to buses leaving the dedicated corridor, and they also provide better connectivity, which the Metro will not have.
The BRT experiment in Pune has come under criticism… In this context, what are the precautions that need to be taken to ensure that the Metro project does not go the same way?
… The Rainbow BRT is receiving a good response, plus the PMPML service will be a feeder to the Metro and hence it is equally important to strengthen PMPML further, while investing in the Metro. Also, we need proper footpaths and cycle tracks in the form of last-mile connectivity, for people to reach the Metro stations. The Metro project should not be treated as a standalone system… but a holistic approach towards the transport needs of the city should be taken up.