From the Economic and Political Weekly, a report on the number of private and public vehicles in major Indian cities: City Transport in India, by Siddhartha Mitra.
The vehicle counts reported are from the years 1985 and 2002. Bangalore, Chennai and Pune have shown an explosion in private ownership of vehicles, with ratios of over 150, compared to a ratio of around 60-65 in 1985. These three cities have seen a large increase in urban work force in the field of IT over the last decade and probably in the areas of manufacturing, services and commerce as well. But as is evident from the numbers the public transport has not kept up pace with the increasing population and the transportation requirements. Also, with more money to spend or borrow (credit cards/ready finance from banks), buying private vehicles in cities is not as difficult or a big deal anymore. In Pune (where I come from) a buying a two-wheeler was a significant investment a decade ago for the middle class, but today people from the same strata owning 2-3 two wheelers or a car is a common phenomenon. Bombay, Delhi and Kolkata, with better public transport than the above 3 cities (am not sure about Delhi) have ratios below 100, with Bombay showing the greatest change and Delhi and Kolkata the least change overall.
Putting this in perspective concerning the issues of: pollution, gas/petrol prices, traffic congestion and travel times, do we really need all these vehicles? Isn't there a better way to travel/transport (by using more public transport)? and how many us have thought of this/or will think of it before buying a vehicle? Agreed, there are several problems related to public transport today, but shouldn't the change come from an individual level also---where one wants to use public modes of transport and also participates in whatever manner she/he can (awareness programs, political activism, participation in policy matters ...). With India fast becoming a manufacturing hub for vehicles and companies being welcomed by the government, which direction are our vehicles and we headed?