Dedicated bus lanes on congested Mumbai roads may be a reality soon, provided the traffic police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) give their approvals.
On Monday, the Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA) directed the traffic police to conduct a study of roads on which dedicated bus lanes can be introduced. If the approvals are granted, the bus lanes will be introduced as early as August 1, said officials.
The date is significant as the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) as it marks the beginning of the first-ever week-long BEST-week.
The roads that will have the bus lanes include Dahisar to Andheri stretch on Western Express Highway, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, Haji Ali to Worli, Sion to Chembur stretch on Eastern Express Highway and Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC).
For lakhs of suburban bus commuters this could mean faster commute as the congestion on these roads will drastically reduce. Around 30 lakh people alone travel by BEST buses daily. The transport undertaking has been pushing for the dedicated bus lanes for a while now.
“Each bus carries the passenger load of 20 cars and so they should be given a priority at least during the peak hours along certain busy stretches. This will also help bring down air pollution and emissions levels. Besides, these lanes can be used by school buses, ambulances and fire-brigades thus enabling them to reach their destinations faster,” said Jagdish Patil, BEST general manager.
While, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has to survey and allow dedicated bus lane at BKC, the lanes on the other stretches will be cleared by BMC following an approval from the traffic police.
Milind Bharambe, joint commissioner of police (traffic), confirmed, “We are evaluating the proposal of dedicated bus lanes and it may take about week for us to hand over the report.”
Confirming the operation of BEST bus services on bus lanes, he added, “We are hoping to receive all clearances in the next two weeks. If all approvals are granted within a stipulated time frame, we are ready to operate services on the bus lanes from as early as August 1.”
BEST week from August 1 to 7
* Aiming at encouraging citizens to travel by BEST buses, the undertaking will celebrate BEST-week from August 1 to 7 for the first time
* Instead of restricting the celebrations to only its employees, the administration will encourage commuter participation by roping in NCC cadets, NGOs and students
* “The attempt is to make this a people’s movement by encouraging them to participate. During, BEST-week, we will appeal commuters to opt for buses to support public transport. We will also try and introduce dedicated bus lanes during this week.” ~ Jagdish Patil, general manager, BEST