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Wheels of Doom: Vehicle overload jams Pune roads

Pune city’s population during the same period has increased by 24 per cent. On the other hand, the city’s road length has failed to increase even marginally.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni , Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: January 1, 2016 12:20:53 pm
Among the million plus cities in Maharashtra, Pune has the maximum ratio of vehicles per thousand persons. Express Among the million plus cities in Maharashtra, Pune has the maximum ratio of vehicles per thousand persons. Express

DO THE math — in the last 10 years, the population of four wheelers on Pune’s roads has increased by 243 per cent and the number of two-wheelers have seen a rise of over 144 percent. Pune city’s population during the same period has increased by 24 per cent. On the other hand, the city’s road length has failed to increase even marginally. Adding to the woes are Pune’s abysmal public transport system, threadbare infrastructure and dismal traffic management.

Traffic that does not seem to move is a chronic problem for every Puneite and it seems to be getting no better. On an average, the commuting time by bus for Pune has increased from 15 minutes to 30 minutes over the past 10 years. Interestingly, the maximum commuting time in a Smart City — a Central government flagship scheme for which Pune has qualified — is supposed to be roughly 15 minutes 10 km.

Among the million plus cities in Maharashtra, Pune has the maximum ratio of vehicles per 1,000 persons —753 vehicles per 1,000 people. Pune contributes 20.66 per cent of the vehicle population of the state, while the state’s capital, Greater Mumbai, has 10. 18 per cent. Greater Mumbai, incidentally has a population of around 2.07 crore, almost three times that of Pune. As of November 2015, there are 22,50,927 two-wheelers in Pune, while there are 5,26,415 four wheelers in the city. This, as mentioned, is a sharp rise from the 2005 figures when Pune had 9,22,674 two-wheelers and 1,54,649 four wheelers.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic Control Branch) Sarang Awad agrees that the steep rise in the vehicular population has resulted in a similar rise in travel time between any two points in the city. “Higher vehicular population means a traveller has to pass through more number of traffic signals, which we are forced to install as even small junctions need them.”

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If private vehicles have seen growth in geometric proportion, the fleet strength of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) — Pune public transport body — has failed to grow even in arithmetic proportion. While the fleet strength of PMPML in 2005 was roughly around 1,044 buses, the present strength is just about 1,600 buses — a 53 per cent growth. The transport body has taken on lease around 500 buses, taking the total fleet strength to around 2,000.

As of 2015, the total length of roads in the city is around 2,600 km, which includes 50 km of National Highways. With more flyovers being proposed in the upcoming civic budget, the number of flyovers by now has easily crossed 50. Traffic planners have pointed out that flyovers like the one on University Road is faulty. Awad said there are ways to control the rise of private vehicles, “First is of course to have an efficient public transport system. A stringent tax regime is one of the ways to control the rise. More tax can be applied if a family buys a second vehicle. Making parking spaces costlier is another way to do it.”

Echoing Awad’s views, Shreya Gadepalli, India Regional Director of the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy, said, “Road space can’t be increased for obvious reason, so modes like walking, cycling, public transport, etc., must be prioritised.”

Year 2005

Population — 25 lakh

Number of two wheelers
9,22,674

Number of buses (PMPML)
1,044

Number of four wheelers
1,54,649

Number of taxi cabs 6,371

Number of autorickshaws 56,088

Year 2015

Population — 31 lakh

Number of two wheelers
22,50,927

Number of buses (PMPML)
2,000

Number of four wheelers
5,26,415

Number of taxi cabs 8,008

Number of autorickshaws 45,499

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