Lack of political will, and a perception Mumbai’s planned Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is merely a feeder system, are keeping the potentially key system from taking off.
This is the view of transport experts and officials connected with the project.
The Rs 1,400-crore project — which promises to be a low-cost solution to the city’s decongested roads — is stuck in red tape, with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in the process of transferring it to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
“The political parties have always shown interest only in projects like the sea link, the Metro and the monorail, ignoring the much more affordable BRTS,” said transport expert Ashok Datar.
The transport experts were speaking at a conference on BRTS organised by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and EMBARQ, an agency studying sustainable transport across the world.
“There is a need to involve political parties while discussing BRTS,” said Sudheendra Kulkarni, transport expert and chairman, ORF.
Sudhir Badami, transport expert at IIT Bombay, said: “Politicians were never told about the technical and financial benefits of the project, which is why they’ve never taken it seriously.”
The experts are fuming over the fact that the project is being handed over to the BMC, which is seen as lacking the technical expertise that the MMRDA possesses. “There has been study after study on the BRTS project but no action,” said Dario Hidalgo, who was involved in designing the acclaimed Bogota BRTS in Colombia.
“BRTS has always been seen as a feeder system throughout MMRDA’s planning process. After the shift to the BMC, which doesn’t have the technical expertise that the MMRDA does, the municipality will again take time to implement the project, given how it is bogged down in a slew of its own projects across the city,” added Badami.
Funding for the project has also been a bottleneck. “MMRDA should see that the BMC has the funds to implement BRTS, otherwise it will join the long list of infrastructure projects on the backburner,” said A. Shenoy, member, Improvement in Quality of Life for Mumbai Suburbs.
MMRDA has written to the BMC asking them to officially take over the project. “We are ready to assist them with funding and technical expertise,” said R Ramanna, Additional Chief Transport and Communication, MMRDA.