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!

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