Pune was the first city in India to experiment with Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), with PMPML starting to ply pilot routes in December 2006.
It turned out to be an unmitigated failure. But the authorities did not give up, and a result of their perseverance is the 32-km Ahmednagar and Vishrantwadi-Alandi Road stretches, which have been a long time coming. The traffic congestion that the project brought in its wake has turned some thorough supporters into sceptics.
Now, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) says the pandemonium is here to stay till the end of June. Road engineers from the civic body maintain that work got stalled because of delay in permission for cutting down trees planted on dividers. As a result, the ongoing work at Sangamwadi, Yerawada and Vishrantwadi-Alandi Road, which was already proceeding at a snail’s pace, will continue to inconvenience commuters and local residents for three more months.
Interestingly, a contractor appointed for BRTS route at Nagar Road has erected a sizeable hoarding at Bund Garden bus stop, but has not mentioned the date of completion of this project. Construction of BRTS bus stops is visible on Alandi Road, but there is no real progress at Yerawada and Ahmednagar Road.
To replicate the successful BRTS model of Ahmedabad, PMC is erecting ten 33.5 X 4 metre bus stops linking Kharadi-Ahmednagar Road via Yerawada-Alandi and Vishrantwadi. Out of 22 such bus stops on the whole corridor, 14 have already been put up informed the civic body.
Nine months ago, a team from PMC, consisting of the mayor, the municipal commissioner and the standing committee chairman visited Ahmedabad to observe the BRTS there so it could be reproduced in Pune.
Citizens are extremely guarded about the new route considering the fate of the pilot project – the 16.5-km stretch at Hadapsar-Swargate-Katraj was not properly executed and had affected the traffic flow, also leading to many fatal accidents. So far, 70 people have lost their lives on BRTS routes since 2007.
Reacting to the issue of delay in the current project, Vivek Kharwadkar, additional city engineer, PMC, said, “We expect work to pick up pace, and the entire route will be complete by the end of June. The course will become operational from July.”
“As per the deadline, we were supposed to complete the work by the end of March. The delay of three months is because the matter of shifting trees from the road dividers had to be decided by Bombay High Court. Now we have received an official permission and work will gain momentum. Even the half-complete bus stop work will be concluded speedily in the next two months,” said Hemand Deodhar, executive engineer (roads), PMC.
70: People have died on BRTS routes in the city since 2007
32 km: Total length of the BRTS corridor expected to be complete by end of June
This half-constructed bus stop here is nothing but a white elephant, which is creating traffic problems during peak hours. This has been the state since the last six months and there is no sign of any progress
— Deepak Gunjal, Yerawada
Like the Hadapsar-Swargate-Katraj route, this corridor will be a failure too. PMC has damaged existing roads and created more traffic problems, which may lead to serious accidents. The incomplete work has already caused major mishaps, especially in the night
— Nilesh Dive, driver with a private company, Nagar Road
Residents in Yerawada are strongly opposing this Ahmedabad-pattern BRTS route, as it is occupying more space on the road. There is no proper provision for pedestrians to cross over
— Ganesh Waghunde, Chandan Nagar
Basically, BRTS is not people-friendly, as it has claimed many lives in the past. 75-year old Indumati Shimpi lost her life on April 2, when a contract-based PMPML bus hit her
— Jugal Rathi, president, PMPML Pravasi Sangh