Whether all major roads in the city will have dedicated lanes meant only for BEST buses in the future will depend on the success of the civic body’s experiment at the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road (GMLR).
The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), which sets up special lanes for public buses, is expected to speed up mass transport and encourage more people to travel by buses instead of private vehicles.
“The other BRTS projects will take off after this one is completed and its performance evaluated,” said Rahul Shewale, chairman, civic standing committee.
According to him, the civic body is considering various roads where the BRTS can be implemented.
Transport activists have welcomed the decision to go ahead with the BRTS.
“We had suggested that Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) be given priority, followed by the Western Express highway. But it is good that the civic body has at least decided to take a step ahead,” said Ashok Datar, transport expert.
JVLR had been recommended as it is one of the few roads that connect the western and the eastern suburbs.
If the BRTS is successful, it would mean that the BEST, which is one of the most efficient transport systems in the world, will become even more efficient. The BEST serves nearly 4.5 million commuters every day through its fleet of 3,400 buses. Traffic congestion and delayed services have prompted many Mumbaiites to opt for private transport over the buses, and the state hopes to change that with the BRTS.
The project was to be implemented by the BEST with the help of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which was asked to undertake a study related to it in 2003.
The MMRDA had originally planned the BRTS between Bandra and Dahisar on the Western Express Highway and between Sion and Mulund check naka on the Eastern Express Highway.
However, the plan was put on the backburner after the MMRDA asked the civic body and the BEST to carry the project forward. Complaints about the BRTS in Delhi and Pune, where it had been implemented, also prompted the MMRDA to put the project on hold.
Experts are concerned that the civic body’s decision to have dedicated lanes at the side of the road instead of near the median will affect the success of the scheme.
“It could be a problem as with a lane at the side of the road, there are chances of encroachment and disturbance by other vehicles,” said Datar. “Motorists need to be disciplined if the BRTS is to be a success in Mumbai.”