Amritsar BRTS comes to halt, new regime to review viability
The previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government’s much-hyped bus rapid transit system (BRTS) that became operational in December 2016 has come to a halt with 15 buses having been withdrawn from the 31-km corridor, the construction of which had caused immense hardships to city residents.
The Congress government has decided to review the feasibility of the project.
As part of the Rs 600 crore project, 93 low-floor AC buses were to be commissioned but only 15 were plying on the road even four months after the inauguration.
When contacted, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said, “The BRTS project has not been shelved but it is being reviewed. We have asked chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to get an on-the-ground review of the project by the chief secretary. It will take a month or two.”
“We will review the overall feasibility of the project. Not only financial aspect, we will also check if the project will actually boost the city’s transport system. The previous government did things in a hurry and the project was launched without taking into account its feasibility. A decision will be taken accordingly,” he said.
70 buses gathering dust
Even as nearly 70 buses have already reached Amritsar but they all are gathering dust at the BRTS depot near Verka. The project was inaugurated with much fanfare by former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal four months back.
The infrastructure such as the dedicated corridor and still under-construction flyovers now appear as white elephant, having spent crores from the state exchequer.
Two metro bus routes (from India Gate on Amritsar-Attari bypass road to Amritsar railway station and from near Mall Road to Batala Road) now wear a deserted look as no buses ply on them. Some other routes are yet to be completed.
The circuit, if completed and run efficiently, can solve traffic congestion in the city.
At the Verka depot, security guards can be seen guarding the low-floor metro buses (each costing around Rs 60 lakh). A guard said there have been incidents of theft bids at the depot.
Incomplete flyovers a hurdle: Admn
Deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said, “A major hurdle this project is facing is that the vital flyovers on which the buses are to run are still under construction. A large bridge which is being constructed by the railways is still incomplete. They had set July as deadline but with the kind of pace of work I am afraid they won’t be able to meet it. Another bridge at Verka has also not been completed.”
The project at a glance
Overall cost: Rs 600 crore
Low-floor buses to be commissioned: 93
Buses purchased: 70
Buses plied on road: 15
Circuit length: 31km
Time taken till launch: 4 years