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PMPML hopes PR can solve BRT problems

Proposes hiring Canadian firm to conduct outreach programme to address disgruntled commuters before Rs 27-crore Alandi Road and Nagar Road corridors go live

With two new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors on Alandi Road and Nagar Road nearing completion, the projects have caught the people’s imagination — but not in a good way. Commuters are unhappy about the location of bus stops and the BRT routes, and many view the special lanes as impediments to traffic flow.


Pic/Mohan Patil

Besides, the pilot BRT project in Pune — from Katraj to Hadapsar — in 2007 was a flop and left commuters severely disgruntled. Keeping all this in mind, the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) has proposed an outreach programme on the BRT routes to create awareness among commuters, and educate them about the necessity of the rapid transit system and how they stand to gain from it.

“We have sent a letter recently to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), asking them to run this outreach programme for the BRT project. We have suggested that the IBI Group, a Canadian company which has worked on the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) BRT project, be given the contract for the programme. The idea is to get commuters to trust the new projects and make them aware of the necesasity of BRT in the city,” said PMPML executive engineer and Pune BRTS in-charge, Anant Waghmare.

“So far, people are either unsure about, or opposing, the BRT projects on both these routes. The outreach programme is, therefore, very necessary for the success of BRT. Local corporators and activists will be involved in the programme, and suggestions and complaints of commuters will be taken into consideration in this programme before the service starts,” Waghmare told mid-day.

‘Too late’
Qaneez Shukrani, member of the Nagari Chetana Manch and a resident of Nagar Road, said, “The programme should have been conducted before work on the BRT started here. PMPML and the PMC should have also undertaken a feasibility study on BRT routes, as there are still many things lacking infrastructure-wise. Commuters are used to boarding buses from the left side of the road, and now the bus stops will be in the middle lane. People are not happy with the BRT work and only such programmes won’t help. The PMC, PMPML and traffic cops should join hands to make the BRT function properly.”

PMCspeak
The PMC, however, says it does not have the funds for the outreach. “We know that people are opposing the BRT on some routes, and a solution has to be found. But, the civic body does not have the funds to invest in such programmes even though they are necessary. For the moment, we are concentrating on completing work on the BRT routes as early as possible,” said a senior PMC engineer who is working on the BRT project.

Corridors

The PMC has identified four potential BRTS corridors totalling nearly 74 km — Warje to Kharadi (22 km), Kothrud depot to Vishrantwadi (17 km), Dhayari to Hadapsar Gadital (17 km) and Kalewadi Phata to Katraj (17.5 km). In the first phase, which began in September 2012, work was started on two routes totalling 16 km — Alandi Road and Nagar Road. The  cost of the BRT on these two routes is pegged at Rs 27 crore.

Reaching out
For the BRT outreach programme, as envisioned by PMPML, the public relations firm which gets the contract will have to initially form Mohalla committees in different BRT areas and distribute handbills containing important information about the projects. Experts may be called in to answer people’s queries and clear misconceptions about the transit system.

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