The road to the realisation of a suitable public transport system for the city is a long and bumpy one.
The many proposals since the announcement of the city bus service in 2007 have promised great solutions to the city's traffic problems but before any could materialise, the Punjab government came up with the idea of yet another grand project, Bus Rapid Transit System or BRTS, worth `500 crore, a meeting to finalise which was held here on Monday.
The city's commuters are skeptical about the success of this project, since the ones preceding are yet to take off in spite of all the hype about them. The city bus service had several trial runs but never hit the road actually. The delay escalated its cost by `13 crore, as the price of buses shot up in the meantime.
The project now is worth `46 crore.
While the buses had not moved from the planning stage, deputy chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced Personal Rapid Transit System (PRTS) or Pods project two years ago. Estimated to cost `250 crore, Pods, on the lines of the system at London's Heathrow Airport, will include a fleet of 210 six-seater cars floating 20 feet above the ground, in the first phase.
Pods will ferry nearly 6,000 people in an hour to eight stations that cover the most frequented and chaotic market places in Amritsar's walled city area, important from the religious, heritage and business point of view. The committees formed to execute the project are yet to function, and Sukhbir has announced the BRTS.
A similar project runs in Ahmedabad, successfully. The project was mooted for Amritsar and Ludhiana, in the first phase, after a state government delegation had studied the prototype in Istanbul, Turkey. Besides a dedicated corridor for low-floor buses, the project will require an elevated road and a bridge. The union government will contribute `250 crores, half the total estimated cost.
The 55 air-conditioned buses proposed will cover a 30-kilometre route from India Gate (Attari Road) to the railway station, Queen's Road, Crystal Chowk, Company Gardens, SSSS Chowk, Celebration Mall and Verka. Tracks connecting Court Road, Kitchlew Chowk, Rialto Chowk, railway station, Crystal Chowk, Bhandari Bridge, Elevated Road and Daburji are also proposed.
"The BRTS project will create history," said municipal commissioner DPS Kharbanda. "Amritsar will gain infrastructure such as new bridges and elevated roads from it.
The MC has requested the government to go for it," he said.
The new proposal
Under Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), 55 AC buses will cover a 30-km route from India Gate (Attari Road) to the railway station, Queen's Road, Crystal Chowk, Company Gardens, SSSS Chowk, Celebration Mall and Verka Tracks connecting Court Road, Kitchlew Chowk, Rialto Chowk, railway station, Crystal Chowk, Bhandari Bridge, Elevated Road and Daburji also proposed.
A similar project running in Ahmedabad, based on a prototype in Turkish capital of Istanbul.