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Why Metro (underground rail) is a bad idea for Pune

While we continue efforts to get people and officials to see different on the Balbharati-Paud bypass, we may want to debate on whether Metro or Sky Bus or BRT is better for Pune. The points to ponder over are (and learn from others) -

  1. The costs as the links below tell us of a Metro is exorbitant $ 5 billion for a distance of 146km (of which only 32 km are underground). That's almost 5 times the cost of Sky bus (which we all seem against).
  2. It will take 4 years to do the job (if all goes to plan) on phase one, second phase by 2016 and third phase by 2021
  3. How long will it help Mumbai, the population of which grows daily by up to 3000 migrants per day.
  4. Planning and getting a Metro comissioned takes time. Mumbai has hoped for a Metro from the time I was a toddler (going back 30 years). By the time Pune gets a nod, we may not be alive!
  5. And if we (Pune) do go ahead with a Metro, should we use  broad gauge or standard gauge, they need  50-80 units of electricity  per KM against the 10 units per KM of a usual goods train. Have we (Pune region got enough power to manage this?)
  6. Will it be a private enterprise or a public service heavily subsidised (and hence probably a loss making enterprise)? Out of 135 Metro corporations in the world, only 4 are making operational profits. And to make it a profit making venture, ticket costs will go up. If travelling on my 2 wheeler is cheaper than or equal to cost a PMT ticket, why will I spend more on the Metro ticket?
  7. The Europen countries do not need airconditioning on Metros. In UK for example 11 of 12 months tempratures are below 20 degrees. But in one week of heat wave the temp is about 42-44 degrees in the cabins (when it is 32-33 outside). Given our weather, we will need AC almost the entire year, the impact of this on  climate is untold, never discussed.
  8. Since I was on climate change, with sea levels rising, London underground is constantly under threat. Boreholes have had to be dug to overcome this. But when the ice in Greenland is gone completely, sea levels will have gone up by 6 meters (Oh! this will take a few generations, our kids grandchildren will have to deal with it).
  9. And lets not forget, more capacity means more vehicles on road (unless the additional measures like congestion charging etc are in place).
  10. The misconception with a bus based public transport system is that the word BRT starts cropping up. Then we have a problem as our roads do not seem wide enough for dedicated bus lanes. Forget BRT, just get 2000 buses (like the ones in Indore), manage their frequency and routes properly, manage and restrict private vehicles, perhaps we will feel the difference.
  11. Ethically too it is improper to consider a Metro or Sky Bus. These projects will only take away funds from other areas which need greated funding. Lets not forget that 80% Indians still live without basic needs being fulfilled - Roti, Kapda aur Makan (forget about lack of healthcare and education). Sure Chidambaram announced 22% increase in health expenditure. I will be happy only if he does that every year for next 20 years. Public Health spending in India has been below 1% of GDP for 2 decades. We are ranked 170+ in comparison to rest of countries (even poorer countries spend more).
The above reminds me of the book ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNT IN KINDERGARTEN By Robert R Fulghum. Each of us is tempted (having tasted Metro's et al in the West) by Grandiose ideas, but perhaps right now we need to remember what our grand-parents told us - 'Hantrun Pahun Pai Pasra'

I don't know about you, but at the present moment (most certainly in the short term), any talk of Sky bus or Metro for Pune will be futile waste of money.

Dr Adhiraj Joglekar