Ambitiously enough, space-starved Mumbai is working on setting aside space for the exclusive use of public transport buses.
The city has been mulling, for over two years now, a Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), a special network of buses with reserved lanes, bus routes and stops, and overhead pedestrian crossing between the stop and the footpath on the other side.
Mumbai’s other two high-profile transport solutions now in the works are the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro (work is on at all three locations), and the Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle monorail (work has begun at Chembur).
Now, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is planning and implementing the BRTS, has decided to accept the consultant’s report by December, and begin work. “The plan should be finalised in a month, after which actual construction will begin,” said R. Ramana, additional chief (transport and planning), MMRDA.
A pre-feasibility report submitted by senior transport experts had said that while Mumbai’s BRTS will follow a global pattern for maintenance and operations, it will be customised to local needs.
One lane on the Western Express Highway has been proposed between Bandra and Dahisar. The other major lane is on the Eastern Express Highway, proposed between Sion and Thane.
“BRTS buses will run on any existing flyover that happens to be on their route,” said U.P.S. Madan, project manager, Mumbai Transformation Support Unit, the city’s infrastructure upgrade agency.
Consultants are now working on finalising the limits of the two proposed corridors, besides designing the routes, planning locations of stops, and exploring the possibility of extensions.
The consultants have fixed on the type of lane (on the median, as opposed to on the footpath), and are finalising the design of bus stops and features like automatic ticketing, passenger information systems and Smart Card readers.
The BEST, which will operate the buses, has already bought swank bus models to run on these lanes. Most are even running as independent routes since BRTS’s delay, in regular traffic with “BRTS” simply painted on them.