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If Pune middle class people had an award for people choosing their transport to be the PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mandal Limited) buses, then I would be the undisputed winner :) . Each time I mention my means of travel to be the infamous, despised, and subaltern PMPML buses, I am received with mocking laughs, expressions of bewilderment, contempt, and at time sympathetic looks or blank faces. I do not blame them, as the condition of public transport buses in Pune is pathetic and extremely commuter unfriendly. A recent survey of the Public transport system available in Indian metros ranks the Pune city bus service as one of the worst, scoring low in all terms ranging from Quality of Service, to route coverage, to breakdown of buses and so on. A detailed comparative study of Public transport buses in Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai by Parisar that featured in most of daily opera newspapers is shown here.
The study says:” PMPML’s performance is below average on every parameter. Its services are unreliable as it has low regularity and high breakdown rates – more than twice the average break down rate for other cities. It has fewer buses, poorer frequency and fewer bus stops. Moreover, it also charges more than other cities. In contrast, MTC (Chennai) charges the least among these cities and also gets the best score. Clearly, something is seriously wrong with PMPML services and management. ”
This negligence has only resulted in adding to the vehicular crowd on roads. A recent news report notes that Pune is ahead of Mumbai in its vehicle population with 2 wheelers (motor cycles) way ahead in their count. Pune crossed the 19 lakh vehicle mark in 2010, out of which 14 lakh are two wheelers alone. The current 2012 vehicle count stand at 23 lac. A direct consequence is the high rate of people(human + non-human) losing lives in road accidents in this city.
The high number of private vehicles has also added to alarming levels of smoke that causes air pollution. Pune’s air is highly polluted with levels of SPM, NOx above permissible limits. Details covered in the report by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).
A worsening situation that has further arisen to accommodate the vehicles and regulate traffic is the unnecessary road expansions to accommodate the ever-increasing multitude of private owned vehicles and a resultant loss of the rich and diverse green cover of the city. This further brings serious environmental consequences.

Interlinking these problems is important to derive effective solutions. The lack of public transport from the civic services and the apathy of the citizens contributes to the mess this city is witnessing. As an individual, after nearly 11 months of communing in the PMPML, I also have my experiences of agony, frustration, risky behavior of the PMPML service. But out of habit and love for my choices I tend to find suitable solutions. My order of commuting in Pune is On Foot followed by PMPML bus followed by On Foot to reach my destinations, on an average I commute 45 minutes on foot each day and occasionally use autos. As Pune offers, many inner lanes off the main road to walk with a decent green cover, it makes walking a treat as it also connects me to this city. I have discovered so many new trees, and watched birds, even a large colony of flying foxes on my sojourns. I enjoy watching these events unfolding in front of me. If only I could complement this with bicycle rides, nothing could beat that. My urge to own the bicycle again is running high, but I am still holding to my sense, as I have still not settled in one place and relocating very frequently adds to many problems.

On a larger content instead of turning away from responsibility and a citizen’s duty to demand answers from the city administration by participating in city building exercises, one has to be an active participant of the present to save for the future.
The beauty of this city and its weather makes it conducive for bicycles, walks and if clubbed with an efficient and effective Public transport can play wonders. A shift in the pattern of commuting from the citizens with the civic support for a greener commuter experience can make Pune a real world-class city. A plenty of groups/ individuals are taking up the cause of better public transportation, restoration of the bicycle culture in Pune, saving the green cover, and so on, but what they lack is the larger disconnect and non-participation from the common citizen. Can we all rethink our stand and play an active role to city problems aka our problems in a collective manner, wont that be a better alternate to self-centered quick fix solutions in form of motor cars and motor bikes?

References: News reports of growing trends of vehicle population in Pune Article 1 from DNA 
Article 2 from TOI
Download Parisar report on PMPML performance. Click Link
TOI covers the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) report of Air pollution in Pune. Click Link 

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