PUNE: Even as both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad are planning separately for Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRTS) in their respective cities, planning without any coordination between the two municipal corporations may eventually lead to problems and confusion for commuters. The point was driven home at a workshop on public transport planning and reforms for Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad held at the Central Institute of Road Transport on Saturday.
In fact, the workshop turned into a forum for the civic authorities of the PMC and the PCMC to intensely debate and argue about the nature of difficulties in planning the BRTS as a totally new project, and implementing the BRTS as a transition project.
A case in point that cropped up during the debate was what problems the commuters will face if the height of platforms of the bus shelters was different in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Another issue that came up was what will happen if the PCMC builds bus-shelters that provide boarding facilities from either sides (for buses having doors on both sides). If the same bus travelled from Pimpri-Chinchwad to Pune, and if there is no provision for boarding facilities on both sides of the bus-shelter in Pune, then this may lead to confusion for the commuters, it was argued. The debate started soon after the PCMC came out with the details of the BRTS network planned for the twin township.
While the issues were being debated, the participants and the experts sought to end it by stressing that both municipal corporations should, at the highest level, discuss the finer issues of planning the BRTS so that there is uniformity in the projects to avoid inconvenience to citizens. The participants stressed that as public money is being used on the projects, it should be implemented with proper coordination between the two corporations. While PMC is working on its 17-km pilot BRTS project and has begun planning for 84-km of BRTS on various roads, the PCMC has started work on two BRTS projects one on the Mumbai-Pune highway stretch of 13 km and the Aundh-Ravet road, a distance of 14 km.
While the PCMC has claimed that its project will be world-class, the PMC officials, who have been facing flak over the pilot BRTS on the 17-km Katraj-Swargate-Hadapsar route, argued that it is different to implement BRTS as a totally new project (as is happening in Pimpri-Chinchwad), as against the BRTS as a transition project the pilot BRTS in Pune.
Among others who were present at the workshop included Pimpri-Chinchwad commissioner Ashish Sharma, chairman and managing director of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited Nitin Khade, PCMC city engineer Eknath Ugile and PMC additional city engineer and traffic planner Shriniwas Bonala.
Presentations on urban transport and BRTS were made by Sam Zimmerman, urban transport advisor of the World Bank, transport planner and consultant Gordon Neilson, who has studied the PMPML, Shreya Gadepalli, senior programme director of the Institute for transportation and development policy and Shriniwas Bonala, additional city engineer, PMC. Ke Fang, senior urban transport specialist of the World Bank observed that more such workshops on urban transport should be organised in Pune. Ashish Mishra of the CIRT gave the welcome address.
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