The much-delayed Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) may soon see the light of the day in Mumbai, thanks to the insistence of the central government. And one of its routes will connect the western and the central suburbs.
Last week, the Centre asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to revive the BRTS project, which it believes is important for Mumbai and has asked it to connect the eastern and western suburbs through the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR).
The BRTS is a high-capacity public transportation system in which buses have a right of way through dedicated lanes. It also involves frequent buses with few stops along a route.
“The Centre has assured us of funding the Rs 1,300-crore project and has asked us to extend it to JVLR,” said MMRDA chief Ratnakar Gaikwad.
Other than on JVLR, the MMRDA also proposes to implement BRTS on S.V. Road, L.B.S. Road and the Sion-Panvel highway.
The MMRDA was supposed to undertake the project and had appointed a consultant to study its viability in Mumbai. The report, submitted by Consulting Engineering Services India Pvt. Ltd., chalked out a plan, and as per initial plan, it was first supposed to implemented on the Eastern and Western Express Highways. The MMRDA was to float tenders in 2009 but backed out at the last minute saying the project should be implemented by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the BEST.
After receiving flak from various quarters, the MMRDA decided to set up dedicated bus lanes from Bandra-west to Dahisar-west and from Sion to Mulund, which would involve only marking dedicated lanes and not providing special buses or infrastructure such as bus stops. However, this plan has not been implemented.
The Centre’s insistence has now forced the MMRDA to look at the BRTS again. “The Centre has assured us it will fund the project. We have been asked to send a proposal of the system. It will be run by the BEST,” Gaikwad said. Once the BRTS is in place, buses can run up to 50 kmph on dedicated lanes
The central government’s attention was drawn to the need for a BRTS in the city when a team of state bureaucrats met officials of the urban development department in Delhi on Friday to discuss Mumbai’s infrastructure needs.
While viewing the presentation, the department secretary said the BRTS was important for Mumbai and asked the MMRDA to implement the long-neglected project.