Imagine travelling in a bus towards south Mumbai from Thane via the Eastern Express Highway, but on a dedicated lane — on the opposite road that carries vehicles from Mumbai to Thane, which is almost empty.
This could soon be a reality on all major road corridors for taxis and buses that now crawl through — and contribute to — the snail’s pace of peak traffic.
A proposal to demarcate ‘high-occupancy vehicle lanes’ that will run in the non-peak direction at peak times, was mooted at a Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA) meeting on November 25.
UMMTA, the state’s apex transport body, was constituted to form an overall policy aimed at decongesting the city’s saturated traffic network.
A high-occupancy vehicle lane (also called HOV lane) is a lane reserved for vehicles with a driver and one or more passengers. These lanes are also known as carpool lanes, commuter lanes, diamond lanes, express lanes, and transit lanes, and are common in the United States and Canada.
The idea, mooted at the meeting by Transport Secretary CS Sangitrao, will be implemented on all the eastern, western, southern and northern corridors that see significant traffic congestion during peak hours.
The dedicated lane will be separated by cones and bollards to be provided by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
“The idea is to demarcate a single lane on the opposite side of any highly congested road, and reserve it for high occupancy vehicles — like taxis, buses and emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines,” said a senior official from the Urban Development department, who is also part of the UMMTA.
Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who supports the idea, said: “Mumbai needs to have better traffic flow and we are working towards that.”