Pune, India is a city with a population of over 3.5 million people in the central northwest state of Maharashtra located a few hours by bus from Mumbai. It is a rapidly developing city with a growing, robust economy, and fortunately, an ambitious plan to improve mobility. For years, Pune has been moving closer to becoming a best practice for Indian cities. In 2015, the city launched the Rainbow bus rapid transit (BRT) system promised in 2007. Today, the corridor runs 39 kilometers, serving 120,000 people per day. Rainbow BRT has high-quality and best-practice design features, and has brought more than 12 percent of its ridership from other modes, primarily private cars.
Pune won the STA because of its accelerating commitment to all sustainable transit modes, particularly with significant growth in pedestrian infrastructure. Pune has become a regional leader in complete streets, in which streets are designed for all users, rather than only for cars; pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and transit riders are given safe access with the complete streets approach. It plans to increase its complete streets by 20 kilometers in the upcoming year. Additionally, Pune has retrofitted 15 kilometers of footpaths along streets to give pedestrians safe passage and plans to expand these another 35 kilometers. Rainbow BRT, one of the first BRTs in India, has added 200 CNG (compressed natural gas) and 25 electric buses to its fleet. It plans to add 400 CNG and 125 electric buses in the upcoming year to grow the fleet to 2500 buses by 2019. The BRT corridor has expanded to 50 kilometers and plans to expand the corridor to 90 kilometers by end of year.
Pune has also developed a parking policy to improve street management by creating designated parking spaces and formalizes parking payments, which will be implemented soon. In March 2019, it implemented a bike sharing program with 4000 bicycles in use. For the last 4 years, the Pune Municipal Corporation has invested over 50% of the transportation budget into walking, cycling, and bus infrastructure, a departure from previous budget allocations. Pune’s successes have already inspired many cities in India to adopt new measures for sustainability and equity. Nashik has hired urban design firms for its Complete Streets network; Chennai is keen on expanding its complete streets into a network and setting up a BRT system, learning from Pune’s journey so far.
Kunal Kumar, IAS, the Director of the Smart Cities Mission mentioned, “The award is a validation of all the efforts done by the city over the years in the right direction and will give boost to many more similar initiatives in future.” In a country as large and rapidly growing as India, Pune has the potential to ignite change and lead the way, says Saurabh Rao, Commissioner of the Pune Municipal Commission, “That is a great news for the citizens of Pune. The city has been constantly striving to provide safe, equitable, cheap, and healthy modes of transport for the people as envisioned in the city’s Comprehensive Mobility Plan. The synergistic working of all the organizations (PMC, PSCDCL, PMPML, GoM and MoUD) is reflected in the numerous projects undertaken. The city has raised the bar in NMT, Public Transport, TOD and TDM Projects among other Indian Cities. I want to congratulate all other nominees as well for raising the bar in Sustainable transport and encouraging Pune to keep on trying to keep up with the set standards.”
Jakarta, Indonesia has received the honorable mention for their work in expanding their BRT system, Transjakarta, which doubled the ridership in less than three years.
Pune will host MOBILIZE 2020, ITDP’s annual Sustainable Transport summit organized in partnership with the Volvo Research and Education Foundations. The event will showcase best practices and lessons in sustainable mobility to an international group of city practitioners and researchers, spotlighting this emerging city as a learning lab.