The city has a new deadline for its much-delayed dedicated bus lanes.
The state transport department has decided to implement the bus lane system within six months. This is meant to be an alternative to the much-debated Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), which has now been in deep freeze for more than three years.
“Work on these dedicated lanes will start in another two months once we identify agencies that have the logistics to place ‘rubber grid separators’. Before October, the dedicated lanes will be ready for use,” said C.S. Sangitrao, transport secretary.
The locations selected are the Western Express Highway (WEH), the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) and the 10-km long Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) connecting both highways. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has completed 95 per cent of the JVLR work — the installation of streetlights is pending.
The BEST and state transport department had selected the WEH and EEH as BRTS locations but things slowed down after a recent tussle between MMRDA and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) when MMRDA refused to take on new city-based projects.
“Two days ago, we got the latest report on dedicated lanes for the city. We had a joint meeting with MMRDA, BMC and PWD, in which it was decided that all three agencies would jointly work on the Rs 21-crore dedicated lanes project,” said state transport Minister, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.
Transport experts have criticised the government for taking up ‘big-ticket projects such as the Metro and Monorail, while ignoring cheaper, most cost-effective projects such as the dedicated bus lanes
and BRTS. Recently, BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade criticised the state government’s disinterest in the BRTS project.
At a recent media meet, Khobragade said BEST had sent several reminders over the last two years to get the project going, but nothing had come out of it.
“Now that this announcement has been made, the government should immediately start demarcating the roads for dedicated bus lanes. This could bring in some relief to the commuters, even though it’s not a proper BRTS,” Khobragade said.