July 07, 2007

Government okays bus rapid transit system in four cities

BRTS is a new concept of urban transportation system being promoted by the New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) under which high-speed luxury buses ply on dedicated lanes to connect cities with their outskirts. Beijing, Jakarta and Bogota have BRTS. In India, Ahmedabad is in the process of implementing BRTS.

“BRTS is a good model for public-private-partnership (PPP) programmes. Wherever it has been implemented, public transportation has improved drastically. The system will reduce the stress on the cities’ transportation infrastructure,” Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy said in his keynote address at the SumInfra 2007, a summit on sustainable PPPs in infrastructure, organised by CII.

Already, Pune and Ahmedabad have commenced pilot projects for BRTS. “These cities had sought permission from us to launch the service (full scale) and it has been sanctioned,” the minister said.

Funds for the project have to be mobilised by the respective states while ITDP will provide technical assistance. BRTS can also be implemented under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are also evaluating BRTS for Bangalore and Hyderabad respectively.

The minister said 63 cities eligible for funding under JNNURM had submitted their plans. “Bangalore’s plan has been approved and the rest of the plans are under evaluation by independent agencies,” he added.

Under JNNURM, urban development projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore will be implemented in 63 cities in phases. While Rs 50,000 crore will be released by the central government, the states have to make a matching grant.

The minister said the government favoured PPP for all Metro Rail projects in future. “The first Metro Rail project based on PPP model is being implemented in Mumbai partnering Reliance ADAG. The government will shortly announce the private partner for Hyderabad Metro Rail,” Reddy said.

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