The Delhi government’s ambitious plan to reserve a lane for public transport buses has hit a roadblock. The traffic police and transport department officials have said that the move may lead to more accidents.
They explained that if a lane is reserved on the left for public buses, then vehicles such as two wheelers and cycles will have to shift to the right lane -- in which cars and other fast-moving vehicles ply.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government is making efforts to strengthen and popularise public transport in Delhi, a city with over 8 million vehicles and high air pollution.
The government had proposed dedicated bus lanes and R2,000 fine for violators.
“We proposed to reserve the left lane on all arterial roads so that buses can move quickly and complete trips in time,” said a senior government official.
“It will help reduce congestion and improve reliability of public buses. The problem is that if we reserve the left lane for buses, we have to shift the cycle track to the right. This is not viable right now. It has been suggested not to notify the scheme till we have cycle tracks in the city,” the official said.
The government said it is trying to find a way out. “We are consulting the stakeholders and will arrive at a conclusion soon,” transport minister Satyendar Jain said.
The plan may be put on hold till the cycle tracks are not built. Sardar Patel Marg, Ring Road, Vikas Marg and Outer Ring Road were some of the roads identified for dedicated bus lanes.
Lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung approved the plan in the first week of June. He asked the government to make a few amendments to ensure the smooth movement of traffic and maintenance of public order.
The L-G had asked if the government planned to allow other heavy vehicles in the dedicated lanes and if yes, under what conditions.
Jung directed the government to carefully choose the roads before implementing the plan.
The L-G asked Delhi Police to consult their traffic counterparts and incorporate inputs in the plan. “Yes, we have expressed concerns,” said Sandeep Goel, special commissioner of police (traffic).
An official said the government made the plan in accordance with traffic police demands and Supreme Court directions.
In its judgment in the MC Mehta vs Union of India & others on December 1, 1998, the Supreme Court had ruled: “They will ensure that wherever it exists, buses shall be confined to the bus lane and equally no other motorised vehicle is permitted to enter upon the bus lane.
“We direct the municipal corporation of Delhi, NDMC, PWD, Delhi government and DDA, Union government and the Delhi Cantt. Board to take steps to ensure that bus lanes are segregated and roads markings are provided on all such roads as may be directed by the police and transport authorities.”