The Govt is hell bent upon extending the BRT experiment up to Delhi Gate. This time, with the bus lanes on the left. Expect more nightmares on the road. A report by Sidhartha Roy & Atul Mathur.
The 5.8 km Bus Rapid Transit corridor in South Delhi has made driving a nightmare for motorists. With the Delhi government adamant on ‘experimenting’ with another 8.7 km stretch that handles much heavier traffic, are we looking at an even bigger mess?
The proposed Pilot B stage of the corridor traverses through some of Delhi’s busiest roads like Lala Lajpat Rai Path, Mathura Road and Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. The chaos, therefore, promises to be worse.
Experts oppose project
Road, transport and safety experts believe that the government should confine its experiments to the existing
5.8 km BRT stretch. The government plans to keep bus lanes on the left side of the stretch this time, unlike bus lanes and stops in the middle of the road on the operational corridor.
“With half of the corridor taken up by the bus lane and bus stops in the centre and another half having the bus lane along the left side, this will create chaos on the existing corridor,” said Pradeep Chaturvedi, former Chairman, Safety and Quality Forum.
“The experiment of shifting the bus lane and stops to the left should be attempted on the old stretch only. Till then, the new stretch should be put on hold,” he said.
“Around 7,000 cars pass through the Chirag Dilli crossing per hour, and it has become a major bottleneck after BRT came up. Now compare this with Moolchand, where 16,000 cars pass per hour, and ITO crossing, where 18,000 cars pass per hour, and you can imagine the chaos BRT is going to unleash,” said PK Sarkar of School Of Planning and Architecture.
“BRT is a proven technology but has failed to catch up in Delhi because only 30 per cent of the actual BRT system has been implemented here. A six-lane system is a must for BRT, with one lane for buses and the other two for the rest of the traffic,” said KK Kapila, Vice-chairman, International Road Federation (IRF).
The idea behind keeping the bus lane in the middle was to avoid conflict between buses — that usually move straight — with private vehicles that take left turns at short distances.
With the left lane now completely reserved for buses, private vehicles needing to turn left would slow down the buses.
“We are experimenting with the new system in the Pilot B stage and would see how it works,” said Transport Commissioner RK Verma, pointing to the fact that people had objected to the bus lanes in the middle of the road as well.
The government is also doing away with the concrete dividers that segregated buses from other vehicles and replacing them with painted lines.
While lane discipline is now largely followed in the existing BRT corridor after some initial hiccups, it seems next to impossible to stop cars and two wheelers from entering the bus lane in the new corridor. Enforcement on a 8.7 km stretch would require an army of private traffic marshals and traffic policemen.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) SN Srivastava couldn’t be contacted over the phone despite repeated attempts.