In about 10 weeks from now, the much-delayed and controversial Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor on the Josip Broz Tito Marg will be thrown open, with buses plying in segregated corridors and other vehicles in the rest of the lanes. Will the system work and are the authorities ready for it? Hindustan Times did a reality check to find out.
The final contours of the BRT system (earlier known as the High Capacity Bus System) have started taking a final shape on the about six-kilometre-long JB Tito Marg. The corridor, under construction for more than a year, has been in news for all the wrong reasons and has been a traffic nightmare ever since its construction started: many accidents and some deaths have occurred.
Unlike what most people believe, the system is not about ‘high-capacity’ buses but segregation of different type of vehicles to allow smoother traffic. The buses will run on a separate corridor and, therefore, are expected to transport more people in less time. The small dividers segregating the bus corridor from the car and two-wheeler lane have come up. So has the raised track for cycles and rickshaws. Work on the pedestrian tracks and bus stops is on. Bollards and signages have been put up to avoid accidents.
On paper, the BRT plan seems smooth with buses running in their lanes and fast and slow moving vehicles separated to avoid friction. A walk down the road, however, reveals a very different picture.
Wherever the bus corridor is closed to traffic, the adjacent lanes remain choc-o-bloc with vehicles, proving the fears of the Delhi Traffic Police, which was against the corridor. A car that had broken down on the stretch near Chirag Dilli proved another fear to be true — it had resulted in a pile-up. Many cyclists have started using the cycle track already but the ride isn’t easy. “I don’t have to fear the cars and speeding Bluelines anymore. But motorcycle riders too use the track during jams as it is not hard to change on to our track,” said Baldhari, a gardener. Not just motorcycles, even cars and buses could be seen changing lanes easily by driving over the small dividers. Then there were pedestrians, who were crossing the road wherever they found a gap in the oncoming traffic.
Who will take care of these problems when the system starts? Geetam Tiwari of Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP), IIT Delhi — the brainchild behind the corridor — said that the traffic police would have to take action against errant drivers.
A senior official of the Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System Limited (DIMTS), which is supervising the project, too said that the traffic police would have to take care of such issues. Though there are only about 10 weeks left for the corridor to open, the traffic police have no plans to manage the problems that could arise. “I have no idea about the BRT corridor and have nothing to say,” said Qamar Ahmed, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic). With the authorities passing the buck, it is not difficult to imagine the scene on JB Tito Marg on April 1.