January 15, 2009

Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation advised to go slow on BRTS plan

PUNE: With several questions being raised over the feasibility of BRTS, which is being implemented in Pune and Delhi, corporators in
Pimpri-Chinchwad have now advised the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation to “go slow” on the project.

The immediate concern of the corporators is two-fold, First, availability of funds for the project and, secondly, whether the civic administration has done its homework well enough to ensure that it doesn’t have to face the problems being faced in Pune and Delhi.

While the PCMC has already started work on pilot project on an 11-km stretch on the Pune-Mumbai highway, between Nigdi and Dapodi, corporators differ on the success of the scheme.

The PCMC is planning to implement the BRTS (bus rapid transit system) on six more routes, but its fate hangs in the balance because of the controversy raised over the pilot project.

Differences over the project came to the fore on Wednesday when corporators intensely debated over the necessity and feasibility of the project in Pimpri-Chinchwad. The reactions came during a presentation programme on BRTS by Shreya Gadepalli, senior programme director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Gadepalli said a total BRTS network has to be planned for the city, instead of having one or two corridors in isolation. Commenting on the advantages of BRTS vis-a-vis the metro project, she said the system is much faster and costs less.

Senior corporator Shreerang Barne said the civic administration should have a clear idea of the project and how it plans to complete it without any hurdles. “We should not go ahead with the project just because we are getting funds for it under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission,” he said.

Former ruling party leader Yogesh Behl said the PCMC wants to implement the BRTS, but it has to be a complete success. “The PCMC should ensure that the project does not turn out to be a financial burden. All aspects, such as population growth in the next 25 years, increase in the number of vehicles, escalation in cost after the project is approved, have to be seriously considered. We will have to maintain a proper balance in spending for BRTS and for ward-level works,” he said.

Another senior corporator Bhausaheb Bhoir said, while a complete BRTS network should be planned for the city, the civic administration should come out with details on the availability of land for expansion of roads where ever the BRTS has been proposed.

City engineer Eknath Ugile said more than 90 per cent of the basic infrastructure work had been completed on the pilot BRTS route. The PMPML will be given the task of procuring low-floor buses for the BRTS route, he said. “It will take a few more months to open the route for traffic,” he added.

Mayor Aparna Doke, who presided over the meeting, urged the administration to make a complete presentation on the BRTS network for the city.

Why are we calling it BRTS?

The Delhi high capacity bus system is not a BRTS. It is primarily a road infrastructure project. It was not conceived as a public transport system, but a road redesign and lane segregation project.

These comments came from Shreya Gadepalli, senior programme director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, who made a presentation on the BRTS on Wednesday. The BRTS, she said, has not been implemented anywhere in India. What we have in Pune and Delhi are segregated bus ways and nothing else.

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Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation advised to go slow on BRTS plan

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