When the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) was first planned, one of its prominent features was pedestrian safety. The reality, however, is very different six months after the first 5.8 km stretch of the corridor became operational.
On Wednesday evening, a pedestrian was mowed down by a speeding minibus on the corridor near Sheikh Sarai in southeast Delhi. The man was the eleventh person to be killed on the BRT Corridor since its inception.
Commuters said public transport has improved on the corridor, but crossing the stretch was still a nightmare for pedestrians. Many motorists have simply stopped using the corridor and take long detours to avoid traffic jams.
R.S. Bhalla, a retired government official and resident of Khanpur, said he has stopped going on morning walks. “You may keep a watch on the right side of the road, but a vehicle might suddenly come from the wrong side and hit you,” he said. Other residents of the area said the stretch was confusing with so many lanes and signal cycles.
Then, the Delhi government had promised three foot-overbridges on the stretch six months ago, but there are still no signs of them.
Senior officials of the Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System Ltd, which has built the corridor, refused to comment. Delhi’s Transport Commissioner R.K. Verma couldn’t be reached over the phone despite many attempts.
“The traffic doesn’t seem to stop on this stretch and motorists don’t show any discipline,” said G.S. Rawat, a MTNL employee and resident of R.P.S Colony. “There are private guards to manage the traffic but they are of no use,” he said.
The guards said motorists and pedestrians don’t listen to them. “They only listen to policemen. It is also risky to stand on the road and guide traffic. You never know when a vehicle may hit you,” said a guard.
Pedestrians also don’t show much respect to traffic rules. They jump barriers whenever they feel like. Congested residential areas flank the stretch between Chirag Dilli and Khanpur and are a problem area on the corridor.
Residents said zebra crossings were painted only at intersections and were far from bus bays. “It is all very confusing. I see the bus stop right across the road but have to take a circuitous route to reach it,” said Pratik Sharma, a Sheikh Sarai resident.
“It is very difficult for school children to cross the road. The school bus drops them at the bus stop at 2 pm every day and they reach home by 3 pm,” said Renu Kanojia, another resident of the area.