Pune Bus Day: A Success ?

For days leading up to the Pune Bus Day, proposed on 1 November 2012 and even a few days after, I was grappling with the whole question of "what's really the purpose and what is its effectiveness?" I heard many arguments, almost all of them, against the concept of a Bus Day in Pune. Most argued that it was more about advertisement by Sakal Times. Most also spoke about 'what will be achieved in a day?'. Some even when to the extreme of suggesting that it is a way to fool us common citizens into believing that Puneites can suddenly shift to using Public Transport, thereby clearing up roads for others.

From my own perspective, initially I was non committal. It looked and seemed like a good initiative, full of enthusiasm and 'feel good' factor. Citizens across Pune poured in wishes and money for the cause and thereby gave a general feeling of 'oneness' amongst Pune citizenry and a collective voice that seemed to suggest that Pune really needs a good public transport system. A part of my logical brain kept telling me that celebration of one day is futile. How can it really help resolve Pune's traffic woes? But a part of my brain, perhaps, the emotional part, wanted me to believe in the goodness of the cause, even if for just one day.

And then suddenly (thanks to Nitin Pai), I had a chance to discuss the ways in which public policy and its effectiveness can be evaluated, to really understand how it has performed. In its most miniscule form, I took the Pune Bus Day, as a public policy. What then should I test to find out if the Pune Bus Day Public Policy was effective?

As with any successful public policy, I should check if the Pune Bus Day Policy was really effective in bringing about a 'marginal' change. And voila, suddenly, the logical and emotional thoughts in my brain could come together to find out simply if the 'feel good' policy has induced at least one additional (marginal) person to take to the Bus for the remaining part of the year? If it has, then I think, the Bus Day was a success. If it has not, then it can be labeled as a failure.

Thus, the proponents of the Pune Bus Day, namely Sakal Times, needs to take a quick survey to find if there were any new entrants into the PMPML's customers. If there were, then the focus of PMPML should be to retain these marginal converts into its customer base. A consistent and systematic follow up on the Pune Bus Day, can be a very good way to absolve Sakal Times of allegation of the motive of 'Only For Advertisement'. And only then, can the Pune Bus Day be termed as a success. Otherwise, it will be just another day, gone by in collective memory of Pune, as a day when people at least spoke about PMPML buses!


  1. I heard about the Pune bus day from my folks who reside in Pune. It was mostly viewed as a advertisement stunt my them as well as their friends.
    I understand Anagha's comments about whether one more person was inspired to take the bus for the rest of the year. However I think the real question is whether PMPL tried to observe the behavior of the common people who participated in the event even though it was just for a day. It was a tremendous opportunity for them to figure out patterns of which routes could be made more efficient and which one were really hopeless.
    My thought is that to gain any advances in Public transportation in Pune, PMPL needs to raise the ante and use opportunities like this to understand how they can get better and there by really be the catalyst for a permanent change.

    1. Very Very True. A Missed Opportunity indeed! Waste of public money and time!

  2. A bus day is useful when there is spare capacity that is not being utilized and you want more people to see the value of bus transport.

    As it stands, PMPML does NOT have spare capacity today. People who DO use buses today have a hard time getting into the bus. And most of these people use the bus do so because they have no other choice. They are either too young, too old, too physically fragile or too poor to have their own personal vehicle. Why add more passengers and make things harder for people who have no other choice but to travel by a bus?

    I don't think any Punekars need to be shown the value of public transport. They'll automatically see it when the public transport is reliable, affordable and comfortable - compared to personal vehicles. It already happens in Mumbai, doesn't it, even though public transport there is very uncomfortable? But it certainly is reliable and affordable. (Of course the state govt is doing everything it can to NOT make it better, but that's a discussion for another day). It's the politicians who need to understand the value of public transport and they clearly don't want to. You can wake a sleeping person, but not someone who's pretending to be sleeping.

    ITDP had given a comprehensive route rationalization proposal to PMPML a year and half ago. PMPML has shown no inclination to implement any portion of it. And PMC is showing no signs of letting up on making things easier for personal vehicles. Road widening, more parking, more flyovers, removal of signals are all ways to tilt the balance AWAY from public transport towards private.

    And the latest stunt of hiring 500 buses isn't without some hidden agenda either! They get 300+ buses right away by implementing route rationalization and another 300+ buses by reducing the rot in maintenance and hiring more staff. But it does not involve large amounts of money, so not very attractive!

  3. I am also concerned about the public funds Sakal has raised. What were those used for? where can the donors check where their money went?

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