'Pune's BRT service to be operational from March 31'
Despite several questions being raised by citizen groups and traffic experts, the civic body claims that the new public transport system is on track to begin operations by March. Sources say infrastructure for the first phase of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) would be completed in two months, and the PMC has assured that its ambitious project would become operational by March 31. Besides, the civic officials have said they have learnt from the mistakes they made during the pilot project, and that the transport system would be successfully implemented this time.
The two corridors — Waraje to Kharadi (22-km) and Kothrud Depot to Vishrantwadi (17 km) which includes Nagar Road and Alandi Road — will have dedicated bus lanes, state-of-the art bus stops equipped with intelligent traffic system, and an on board ticketing system. All bus stops would have electronic display boards providing up-to-date information on buses. “All the norms of an ideal BRT would be fulfilled in this project. Our responsibility is to prepare the infrastructure after which PMPML would be tasked with the implementation of number of buses, types of buses, and route frequency,” said a BRT official-in-charge, on condition of anonymity.
With the PMC geared up with its venture, commuters and traffic experts are questioning several aspects of the project. They claim that the project will meet the same fate as that of the pilot project, which was conducted from Katraj to Hadapsar in 2006. NGOs, traffic experts, PMP Pravasi Manch, and representatives of PMP commuters have raised several questions and are demanding transparency of the project.
“Till now, the PMC or the PMPML have not made known any information about the implementation of project. The pilot project failed due to poor planning and implementation. We have surveyed the current work status. They are constructing only bus stops. We have not found any dedicated bus lanes. We have conveyed our apprehensions by writing letters to the concerned authorities, but have not received a reply yet,” said Jugal Rathi, president, Pune Pravasi Manch.
“For the BRT, right sided door buses are essential. Currently, we have only 300 such buses. Almost 75 per cent PMPML buses have doors on the left side, which cannot be used for the system,” said Ranjeet Gadgeel, civic activist. “Before implementation of the project, PMC officials had said that they would conduct public outreach programs to convey the idea of BRT. Also, the PMPML has not even organised workshop for drivers/conductors who would be key operators of the system,” he added.
“Both the corridors (Nagar road and Alandi road) do not constitute complete routes. For instance, no bus route originates at Yerawada from where the Nagar road BRT corridor commences. Thus, the BRT buses will ply on mixed traffic lanes and enter or exit the dedicated BRT lane at Yerawada. This means the opening of the doors will shift from right to left and vice versa. Opening the door on the wrong side would be unsafe for commuters. Safe road crossings for pedestrians and commuters are of prime importance especially in view of the central bus stops,” said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrian First.
The other side
Replying to the issues raised by the citizen groups, Anil Burase, chief engineer, PMPML, said, “All the new buses that would be inducted in PMPML will have doors on both sides. Both side door buses are suitable for BRT and non-BRT routes too. Moreover, in the next five months, PMPML will induct 500 additional twin-opening buses, which can be utilised for the BRT system.” While Pranjali Deshpande, program leader of ITDP, the advisory committee of PMC and PMPML, said, “The PMC has started conducting public awareness programmes. Officials have begun conducting meetings with Mohalla committees that are located on the two BRT routes. Before the project become operational, essential information will be disseminated to residents.”