It was a novel experiment — to find out if a dedicated bus lane is viable between National Sports Club of India (NSCI) and Haji Ali, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) did a 60-minute test-run on Tuesday morning.
But without putting up barricades or signs, instead, getting BEST staffers and National Service Scheme students to direct buses to the left on the 1.5-km stretch made the entire exercise futile, transport experts said.
The bus lane experiment began at 10.15am, with BEST chairman Arvind Dudhwadkar and general manager Jagdish Patil at the spot.
“It was a way to create awareness among the public and get information that will be useful for other routes,” said Patil.
“Fifteen minutes into the exercise, we realised we could operate the lane without intervention. Lane demarcation, placing of barricades and signage will be done as soon as we get permission from the nodal agency concerned,” he said.
Another BEST official said the experiment was an effort to show these agencies a bus lane will be put to good use. “We operate at least 70 buses on this stretch in an hour. This experiment will show agencies such as the traffic police and the BMC that a bus lane will be optimally used,” he said.
BEST has proposed bus lanes on several stretches in the city, but has so far, not received approval from the BMC or the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
Transport experts called the experiment hasty.
“BEST should have made better arrangements. That way, the implementation would have been more organised, and we could have gauged the actual response of motorists,” said Chetan Bordawekar, a transport expert. According to Jagdeep Desai, another expert, a trial-run for a couple of hours will not help. “BEST drivers also need to be trained to keep the bus to the left,” he said.
“We allowed the operation of the bus lane, as part of ‘BEST Buzz’. If the experiment is successful, we will mark the stretch as a dedicated bus lane,” said Milind Bharambe, joint commissioner of police (traffic).