The Delhi High Court on Monday said the row over the bus rapid transit corridor system erupted only because the Delhi government had chosen one of the “narrowest” and most “congested” stretches — the 5.8-km stretch between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand — for its pilot project.
Although it supported the idea of encouraging the use of public transport, the court said this was a “wrong way to punish car users”.
“It is a wrong way of forcing people (car users and others who use personal vehicles) to shift to the public transport system and discourage use of private cars” said a bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, reserving orders in the case.
“Did they choose the worst segment as a pilot project to implement it? It seems the whole problem was that it was a very narrow stretch,” the court said. The court had on September 11 restored the BRT to its original state, not allowing other vehicles on the exclusive bus lane till it took a final stand while coming down on indisciplined drivers of private vehicles.
Since May 12, the court, which is hearing a public interest litigation demanding scrapping of the BRT, was allowing other vehicles on the BRT as part of a feasibility study being undertaken by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI).
The court said it would consider following issues: Is CRRI an expert body for traffic management study? Should it have consulted the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System which operates the BRT on vehicle travel data? Since buses were running faster in the BRT rather than in mixed traffic, has not the BRT served its purpose?
The court agreed to mull over the questions after they were raised by lawyer Prashant Bhushan while appearing for the NGO National Alliance For People’s Movement, which had argued against scrapping of the project.
The court had opened the corridor to other vehicles after the CRRI said commuters benefited without the BRT. “Experimental run of allowing other vehicles to ply on the earmarked lane for buses yielded better benefits for all the road users compared to the BRT situation with much reduced traffic jams,” the CRRI report said.