While shuffling through the archives of newspapers in a dusty corner of a sprawling antique library, what caught my eye was the rather ironic headline. In a daily from year 2010, it read ‘Pune Metro: Will it be a reality in 2013?’ I couldn’t help but feel amused.
Clearly, the Maharashtra state Government was too busy rewarding our plain Jane cousin Nagpur with a Metro, while Pune can still only dream about one. Neither did the PMC deem it necessary to dwell on our silly whims back then. “Aa ho Metro kashala?” would be the irked and idyllic response of a potbellied bureaucrat.While we Punekars are still crooning, “Humko bi toh lift karado, ek Metro hi diladon!”
If the ‘Gods of Metroville’ agree, we should see a Metro line in 2019, as plans suggest. Commuting around a rapidly-booming smart city like Pune has become an ordeal. Citizens, and especially youngsters, are limited by choices and dominated by an unruly horde of individuals on the road. Over a zesty lemon soda, my friend and me sulked and bonded over the woes that perturb us all. Let’s all Punekars bond over these reasons for wishing for a much-needed Metro in our beloved Pune…
The mad circus on the roads
The wise old residents of Pune may still live in denial, they’d still like to allude to Pune as a charming quaint city, with a serene and lackadaisical pace of life. The realists however know that the romance is over!
The debilitating reality of commuting today at rush hours is simply this – longer hours stalled in draconian traffic, jam-packed roads (with almost imaginary footpaths for pedestrians). As drivers zig zag and suddenly drop to turtle speeds, there remains a constant race between two wheelers, four wheelers, rickshaws and heavy vehicles to overtake one another. Not to mention the occasional cows that come to bless us and the jeopardy that nonchalant jaywalkers create!
A Metro has a greater traffic capacity – it carries as much traffic as 7 lanes of bus traffic or 24 lanes of car traffic. It could thus take off the load from our beaten and troubled roads.
Pollution level charts are screaming “STOP NOW!”
The last thing you want before an important interview is a strong and pungent whiff of cloudy black fumes on your face, which leaves you in a coughing fit and a daze for minutes.
The rising charcoal black fumes from the back of cars, cabs, PMT buses and rickshaws is a ghastly sign. Something as environment friendly as a Metro, which causes no air and sound pollution is the way to go for Pune. We could all use a tad bit of sophistication and cleanliness here, no?
Paisa, paisa, paisa!
Those that suffer the misery of dependence on autos or cabs to commute around the city are doomed with holes in their pockets, especially the youngsters, courtesy the exorbitant fares! No holes in your pockets if you are from the swanky companies that pay for your daily travel. But let us not forget the oscillating petrol prices.
Between the demand, supply and pricing gets crushed the common man’s batva.
A Metro is economical; as per reports online it works out to Rs. 7 for 2 km and maximum Rs. 24 for anything above 30 km! Imagine your savings just doubling. Yay!
A SMART CITY calls for a Metro.
Most modern cities have conversations and heartwarming stories from their Metro line, almost adding a sense of intimacy and camaraderie among the city dwellers. Whether it is New York with its underground subway or the exhilarating stories or Mumbai- where you travel like sardines in a packed can. A Metro lends character to a city like no other mass activities can. The daily hello between two strangers and the mysterious girl with the guitar and headphones. Or the saree-clad, middle-aged lady with a stunning tattoo on her back. A Metro is a microcosm of culture and people from all walks of life.
TIME is the longest distance between two places!
Wouldn’t it be simply awesome to be so well-connected? No more will you have to call for a rain check on your plans with friends by citing a hectic schedule or feigning sickness. North, South, East or West, wherever you live in Pune- just hop on from the closest Metro station and reach your destination in what shall seem like a merry jiffy!
BONUS: The announcements in the Metro! Oh Joy!
As a born and brought up Punekar, I would cry the day I visit the Metro station for the very first ride in the city! Metro stations will be full of myriad colours in true Punekar style – big banners of Joshi wadéwalle, Durga thali and PNG Jewellers with attractive offers. Small kiosks with newspaper stands that flaunt Sakal, Aaj ka Anand and Times of India. Garam chai and biscuits for a quick breakfast and coffee on the go for the tie-blazer people.
As the automatic doors shall part open and the gushing AC air throws a chilly welcome, I will be all ears for a soothing feminine voice through the electric speakers on the Metro ceiling. First in Marathi, then Hindi, followed by English, “Welcome to Pune Metro. Next stop Kalyani Nagar” Oh Joy!