It's official. The dedicated bus lanes to be introduced in the city will be demarcated along the median on the highways. After much deliberation, the authorities have decided to mark these lanes along the divider, rather than the far-off ends where bus stops usually are, despite the decision requiring massive construction along the highways, as well as re-engineering of the buses.
"The dedicated bus lanes will come up along medians of Eastern and Western Express highways," said Uttam Khobragade, BEST general manager.
The project, which has been in a limbo for quite some time might see the light of the day as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has already appointed Consulting Engineering Studies (CES) to submit a feasibility report about introducing the much-touted bus rapid transit system (BRTS).
"It is a long procedure. A lot of changes will have to be made to ensure that the project is successful. A lot of re-engineering like changing the design of the buses, the entry and exit doors of the bus, the approaches to the bus stops, etc. will have to be undertaken," Khobragade said.
It may be recalled that in April last year the state government was rethinking its decision of introducing the BRTS after the initiative failed in New Delhi. The capital had introduced the BRTS without studying the traffic patterns, vehicular load on the roads and space occupied by cars and other heavy vehicles.
In Mumbai, the problem arises once the corridor enters the city limits at Mahim on western and Sion on the eastern side.
Last week, Jaime Lerner, the father of the BRTS, had visited Mumbai to promote mass transportation. A former mayor of Curtiba, a metropolis in Brazil, this urban planner and architect had said: "It took more than three years for the BRTS to become successful in Brazil.
During those days, it wasn't feasible to have an urban rail system. We were thinking about various alternatives and designed the dedicated paid lanes along which we operated three-coach buses that could carry more than 300 passengers. Currently, it is being used by over 2.3 million passengers daily."
However, the BRTS in Pune, which has also been designed along the median, failed as people were not accustomed to lane discipline. "The lanes will have to be adequately demarcated to ensure that other vehicles do not enter.
Also, bridges or subways will have to be provided for smooth movement of people to the bus stops," said a transport expert.