Activists in Pune, India, have sent local officials a checklist of 21 demands urging caution and due diligence before the next phase of a bus rapid transit system opens along a major corridor next week, reports the Times of India. Pune is India’s ninth-largest city and the first to begin implementing BRT, in 2006.
In a letter addressed to Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar, Mayor Prashant Jagtap, the traffic police, regional transport office, chief minister and state transport minister, activists called for authorities to ensure the safety of the system by creating a robust maintenance program, conducting public outreach and allowing a third-party audit prior to launch. One of their key demands is guaranteeing the usability of bus stops that are now several years old.
“The bus stops on the corridor were built almost three to four years ago and have, since then, faced not only general wear and tear, but also vandalism. Ensure duly repaired and functional doors, seating facilities, electric fittings, adequate illumination and uninterrupted power supply at each bus station and bus terminal,” reads the letter. They also call for traffic wardens who will be posted at light signals and crossings to be adequately trained, and for their regular attendance to be checked by supervisors.
Activists also want a transfer terminal at Wagholi to be fully integrated with the Intelligent Traffic Management System, which provides real-time information for passengers. They suggest free bus travel for the first month and 50 percent discounts on tickets for the next two months as incentives to convert private vehicle drivers to bus riders. The letter also calls for adequate driver training, strict action against reckless drivers, and a prompt and effective system for addressing grievances. The letter, signed by groups including two local citizens’ forums, states that all recommendations are based on poor experiences on other bus rapid transit corridors already in place throughout the city.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.