Stranded in the middle of Chirag Dilli crossing, the driver of a red Swift car couldn’t decide for five minutes which way he should head. With traffic honking from all around, he panicked and simply drove right when he had to actually go straight.
Welcome to Delhi’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor.
“I had to go towards Pushp Vihar. But once I reached the crossing, there was no way ahead. There was only traffic coming from opposite side. It was mind-boggling,” said Ayush Kapoor, who was coming from Lajpat Nagar.
The Centre may be keen on creating more BRT corridors in the city, but the existing one between Moolchand and Ambedkar Nagar continues to be a mess.
When launched in April 2008, the 5.8-km corridor between Moolchand and Ambedkar Nagar was touted as the panacea for Capital’s congestion problem. It aimed to prioritise public transport buses over private vehicles and had two separate bus lanes in the middle of the road for low-floor and other DTC buses. It also had dedicated tracks for cyclists and pedestrians apart from fringes on either side for other vehicles.
However, today the corridor itself is one of the worst traffic nightmares in Delhi.
It has become a free for all when it comes to lane discipline. There are five signals at the crossing but since cars and buses all ply in the same lane, drivers often get confused which signal they should follow. Traffic going from Sadiq Nagar to Pushp Vihar have to wade through vehicles coming from opposite direction which do not mind occupying the wrong side. If they find no space, they just stand in the middle, creating further chaos.
Signals do not mean much. Marshals deployed to manage traffic only wave aimlessly. Traffic police stationed in a room under the flyover regularly witness the mess, offering little solution.
“The matter is in the court. We can’t challan for breaching the lane yet. And if we stop people for jumping the light, the traffic gets jammed. The lights go out every now and then. At such a time, we require at least 10 officials to manage the traffic. But then we are short-staffed,” said a traffic police officer.
However, they often help pedestrians and new drivers to navigate through the mess. Ram Vilas, a cyclist, said, “I go through this hell daily from Panchsheel to Dakshinpuri. It takes me at least 10 minutes to go across the road. I can do it because I am so used to it now. But these bikers now drive in our lane. It’s horrible.”