The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has finally agreed to operationalise the much-talked about Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) on the Western and Eastern Express highways, wherein a dedicated lane for the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) buses will be provided to facilitate faster commuting.
Alarmed by the recent spate of accidents on the express highways, metropolitan commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad gave the green signal for the implementation of BRTS.
"The planning and implementation of BRTS on other major roads across the metropolitan region will be done eventually," said Gaikwad.
But the government and the BEST are yet to figure out whether the dedicated corridor should run parallel to the median or whether it should be at the two sides. BEST, which has procured 20 air-conditioned buses to be operated exclusively on these routes, has already finalised its purchase order for another 50.
The MMRDA has selected Consulting Engineering Services (India) Private Limited (CESIPL), a multi-national agency, to undertake a feasibility study on introduction of long dedicated bus corridors on congested roads such as the Lal Bahadur Shastri Road, Swami Vivekanand Road and Sion-Panvel highway. CESIPL will study the traffic patterns on these routes and come up with suggestions on how mishaps can be avoided on BRTS routes on these stretches.
Asked whether the demarcation will prohibit cars from entering the corridor, a senior official from BEST said, "Vehicles will have to be disciplined from not entering the corridor."
The corridor will not be open for taxis and auto rickshaws. "The scheme is restricted to buses," said a BEST official. "However, the government is exploring whether private bus operators can be permitted to use the corridor in between the movement of BEST buses," official added.
According to sources, the actual work on BRTS is likely to start only by January 2009 once CESIPL's report and recommendations are approved by the state committee on BRTS.
Shweta Karnik & Chittaranjan Tembhekar
Monday, July 14, 2008 03:33 IST