Every moment a law is broken on the Bus Rapid Transit corridor, risking lives of motorists and pedestrians. And the authorities seem to be least bothered, at least not for now. Motorists have no clue how the new system with its multitude of dividers works, and there’s no traffic policeman either to show them the way.
The job of managing Delhi’s infamous traffic on this pilot corridor has fallen on a band of 40 helpless private traffic marshals deployed by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS), which is supervising the project.
The 5.5 km BRT corridor stretch from Ambedkar Nagar to Moolchand is used by lakhs of office-goers every day although its official inauguration is still a fortnight away. Previously known as the High Capacity Bus System (HCBS), the stretch regularly sees accidents, which have killed four people in the past seven months and injured dozens of people.
The corridor has segregated lanes for buses, motorized vehicles and slow moving vehicles. However, motorists jump lanes at will and there is no one to stop them. Motorcycles drive on cycle tracks while cyclists use the motorised lanes. Cars run on bus lanes and many even drive on the wrong side.
“Where speeding motorists run over even traffic policemen, do you expect them to follow instructions from a private guard armed with a baton?” said a traffic marshal. “We have no authority or power to prosecute them, why should they fear us?” he said.
In regular visits in the last fortnight, Hindustan Times has never found a traffic policeman on the entire stretch.
Delhi Traffic Police, however, claim that traffic on the BRT corridor is being managed like any other road in the Capital. “Our personnel are present on the stretch and we would also manage traffic after the corridor opens. However, there is lot of pedestrian crossing on the stretch and DIMTS would also deploy its own traffic marshals,” said SN Shrivastava, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic).
Though the corridor would have more traffic signal cycles and pedestrians would have to cross half the road to reach the bus bays, the traffic police have no special management plans.
On Thursday, HT saw a minor accident between two motorists at an intersection, which caused a snarl. When the traffic marshals went to mediate and remove the vehicles, both the motorists shouted at them and the marshals returned to their positions. “Motorists don't listen to us. People only respect authority,” a traffic marshal said.
Most marshals don't know how the system works and why the bus lanes are painted blue (to differentiate them from car lanes). “I joined only three days ago and just know that vehicles would use separate lanes from April,” said one marshal.
The problems on the stretch were also raised by the BJP in the Delhi Assembly on Thursday, with some members demanding that the entire project — of 14.5 km from Ambedkar Nagar to Delhi Gate — be scrapped as the road was creating massive problems for the people.