After skipping several deadlines, the state’s first 600-crore bus rapid transit system (BRTS) in Amritsar is set to become functional by June this year.
The ambitious project —which was caught in controversies and drew flak not only from political parties, but also environment groups and residents — is aimed at decongesting the traffic in the holy city which sees a huge footfall of tourists all the year round.
According to the proposal, air-conditioned buses would run on a special 31-km corridor that will connect key areas in the city. The dedicated corridor will ensure that these buses run without any forced stoppages due to traffic chaos on the road.
Currently, commuting on city roads is a nightmare. In the past, many plans — such as the city bus project — to tackle the traffic mess have come a cropper. After many deliberations, the state government in 2013 decided to replicate the Ahmedabad BRTS model in Amritsar.
For the execution of the project, the Punjab Bus Metro Society (PBMS) was formed. It comprises officials from MC and various other departments besides the deputy commissioner ( DC). The PBMS is being closely monitored by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who has been taking a keen interest in the project all along.
“Let the BRTS be completed and then we will go about putting other infrastructure in place. Amritsar will soon become the most beautiful city in the country”, Badal had said in a recent meeting to review the project progress.
While the public works department (PWD -B&R) is the agency that is executing all civil works connected with the project, the PBMS has been assigned the task of purchasing the buses and will also be the in-charge of operations.
Talking to HT, PWD executive engineer JS Sodhi said the estimated cost of civil works and putting the entire infrastructure into place will be
495 crore. Around 200 crore will be spent on purchasing 93 low-floored, airconditioned buses that will run in the dedicated corridor in the first phase.
No VIP cavalcades on route
The 31.7-km route will include the dedicated corridor as well as ‘mixed traffic’ zones such as the 3-km elevated road that runs along the general bus terminus.
“Other than the BRTS buses, no other bus, auto or car will be allowed to run on the dedicated route. The corridor will be out of bounds even for VIP cavalcades,” added Sodhi.
He made it clear that there will be some changes in the city bus service routes once the BRTS gets going.
The corridor, which will be a single road around 30-feet wide, enough for accommodating two buses simultaneously, will be sealed with iron grilles to prevent any unauthorised entry.
However, there will be openings at certain places where roads from important localities on either side join the main road through which the corridor passes.
The corridor along Batala road will be elevated and will be supported on concrete pillars. Normal (mixed) traffic --- private vehicles, trucks, buses and autos --- will run on either side of the corridor.
Sodhi said there will be 45 bus stops, after every 500 metres, on the entire 31.7km stretch. The construction work is on and PWD officials are confident of completing it well in time..
“At certain places, the grilles are yet to come up, but these will be installed within two months. Quality road network is being constructed within the corridor and we are hopeful of finishing it before the deadline,” Sodhi added.
The bus stops along the existing elevated road will be constructed near the general bus terminus.
These will be on either side of the elevated road.
“The bus stops on the elevated road and on the elevated portion of the corridor along the Batala road will have lifts for passengers,” said Sodhi.
Going Ahmedabad way
The state government has replicated the Ahmedabad BRTS model in Amritsar. A team of senior officials of the Punjab government first studied the Gujarat city’s model and then decided that it was best suited for the holy city. “The traffic density, population and various other conditions are same in Ahmedabad and Amritsar. So we are hopeful that the project will also be a success here,” said PWD executive engineer JS Sodhi.
Why BRTS flopped in Delhi
Officials said the project failed in Delhi as it has a high traffic density with multiple roads and bridges. “The roads intersect at many places in the national capital and this is the major reason why the project came a cropper there. The scenario is totally different in small cities such as Amritsar. The holy city has four-laned roads and the movement of buses can be easily managed in a dedicated passage,” says public works department executive engineer JS Sodhi.
1 In the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), AC buses run within a dedicated corridor. As no other traffic is allowed in the corridor, the buses run without any traffic hindrance and take less time to cover distances.
2 In Amritsar, the corridor has been constructed in the middle of the four-laned road at some places. Normal traffic will run on both sides of the corridor. For the purpose, the width of these roads has been increased
3 At some places, the BRTS buses will run on roads with mixed traffic with no corridor ---this distance is short.
4 The corridor is wide enough to allow two buses coming from opposite directions to pass each other without any hindrance.
5 There will be bus stops after every 500-metres.Special pedestrian lanes with traffic lights will allow passengers to cross over to bus stops.
6 To reach the elevated portion of the corridor, lifts have been provided