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Delhi Government behind BRT mess?

The Bus Rapid Transport is anything but rapid. On the first working day since trials began on the corridor, there was complete chaos, reports Sidhartha Roy.

delhi Updated: Apr 22, 2008 02:10 IST
Sidhartha Roy

The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system is anything but rapid. Cars crawl, pedestrians are confused, cyclists joust with motorcycles in their lane, and buses stop ahead of their bays. And no one quite knows whom to blame for this mess.

On the first working day since trials began on the 5.8-km BRT corridor, there was complete chaos. The short stretch between Moolchand and Ambedkar Nagar took more than an hour to cross, with the wait time at intersections like Archana crossing and Chirag Dilli between 15 and 20 minutes. <b1>

Everyone concerned blamed malfunctioning traffic signals. But deeper issues were at work, and no one could hold out any promise of their resolution, early or delayed. “What was the need to impose this strange project on us? I was satisfied with the way things were, we never had jams like these before on this road,” said an exasperated Dheeraj Gupta, who works for an MNC. <b2>

“People don’t even know whose brainwave this corridor was, I can only blame the Delhi government,” he said. It is a difficult question to answer, with no one willing to own up responsibility.

The BRT is the brainchild of Delhi-IIT's Traffic Research and Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP) and the execution has been done by RITES. The Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Ltd. (DIMTS), a special purpose vehicle floated by the Delhi government is supervising the project.

This basically means just one thing: the project doesn't have one single master. Therefore, the unmatched mess.

"This road never required 70 traffic marshals, 35 traffic policemen and 20 transport department officials for enforcement. This shows that the project isn't working," said a senior DIMTS official on condition of anonymity. "This road cannot take the load of so much traffic and there are many engineering faults in the design made by IIT-Delhi," he said. <b3>

"The volume of traffic on this road has gone up considerably and we hadn't anticipated this to happen. For instance a large number of call center cabs use the road now," admitted Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta.

When asked about the traffic chaos, Mehta said 2.7 lakh people using buses have no problems. "Only the 1.2 lakh people using personal vehicles on this road are facing problems," he said.

Mehta blamed RITES for the chaos on the corridor saying they failed to perform. "CMS technologies, which couldn't build the traffic signal system properly, ditched us. We have summoned their boss from Mumbai," he said.

Admitting that all the stakeholders are blaming each other for the mess, Mehta said better coordination would now be ensured through regular meetings.

Geetam Tiwari of TRIPP could not be contacted over the phone despite repeated attempts and Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) SN Shrivastava couldn't be contacted either.