Friday, July 3, 2009

Set higher targets for BRTS, traffic experts tell govt

The state government’s ambitious Bus Rapid Transit System project, aimed at easing the traffic woes of the city, has a lot more scope than what government targets for the project suggest, say traffic experts.

Sudhir Badami, member of the Steering Committee set up to monitor the BRTS, has sent a letter to the Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary requesting it to maximise the desired number of passengers to be ferried through the system. According to Badami, the government, at present, is looking at a very small number. “The authorities are looking at 15,000 persons per hour per direction which is not enough. The figure that I’m looking at is 45,000 persons per hour per direction. This will bring down the number of commuters using trains,” Badami argued.

The BRTS will run through the median of the Eastern and Western Express highways. The two 25 km pilot routes will run from-Suman Nagar to Dadar on the Eastern Express Highway and Dahisar to Bandra on the Western Express Highway.

Meanwhile, the nodal agency for the project, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), believes that their target is ‘realistic’. “Fifteen thousand persons per hour per direction is the maximum that can be achieved here. While it is not possible to achieve the 45,000 mark on a single lane; it can be achieved where there are two-three dedicated lanes for BRT,” said a senior MMRDA official requesting anonymity.

Badami said that the number can be achieved by providing more number of busses at a higher frequency. “They (consultants) are planning to introduce bi-articulated buses by 2021 which is too late. High capacity buses need to be introduced early. They need to look at good quality, good quantity and high frequency service,” he added. According MMRDA estimates, the number of bus users on the express highways is 9,000 people during peak hour.

Another issue the state government would face will be the convincing the private vehicle owners to shift to public transport. “It is a challenge to get the people to accept this new system,” the official accepted. However, Badami said, “Provide facilities and people will use the system.”

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