Pune Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is again in the news.

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Pune was the first city in India to experiment with a Bus Rapid Transit system. Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) started plying pilot routes in December 2006. The project consists of 16.5 kilometres (10.3 mi) of bus lanes along the Pune-Satara Road and 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) for Vishrantwadi – Yerwada route using airconditioned, low-floor buses initially on Katraj – Swargate – Hadapsar.

Nagrik Chetna Manch, a Pune-based citizens group, has written to the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Central government and the Pune Municipal Corporation, claiming to bust myths about the failed BRTS in Pune.

Here is the copy of the letter sent :

(1) Shri Kunal Kumar, Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation
(2) Shri Datta Dhankawade, Mayor Pune
(3) Smt. Manisha Patankar-Mhaiskar, Secretary, Urban Development Dept., Maharasht
(4) Shri Madhusudan Prasad, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Union of India

Copy: (1) Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister holding charge of Urban Development Dept.,
(2) Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Minister, Urban Development Ministry

Sub : Exploding Myths on start-up of so-called BRTS in Pune on Sangamwadi-Alandi corridor

What PMC is trying to do under political pressure along with trying to clean up it’s negative image in view of Smart City listing, is roll out what could be termed as a “modified hybrid transport system”. This is another attempt to use up about Rs. 1100 plus public funds without ensuring that the transport system is complete or safe. By PMC trying to reach out to the public in last ditch attempts by offering sops & free rides is not going to wish away the reality of irregularities & deficiencies.

Standard features for a successful BRTS according to globally acceptable & conceptualised features has not been met viz-a-viz exclusivity of continuous bus-ways, footpaths, cycle tracks which is a requirement as per NUTP 2006 to maximizing speed, service and achieving rapidity.

To conform to guidelines, standard features, BRTS must be planned scientifically, logically, rationally and comply with industry practices and transportation systems accepted globally.

Despite PMC’s superficial assurances about impending roll-out of the so-called BRTS, if the very basis of this transport infrastructure is askew, safety will be compromised, citizens will purchase more & more private vehicles and the intention of NUTP 2006 will remain on paper and be completely destroyed.

Scenario in Pune

A) Bus-ways are either not exclusive or not continuous. Out of 118 km planned corridors 57 % (67 km) of Pilot, Phase I and CYG BRTS, do not have dedicated bus-ways while 43 % (51 km) are dedicated but not continuous. Private and other vehicles have been using the excusive lanes for movement & parking. Traffic Police does not enforce the law but looks the other way

B) An glaring error is that the lengths of BRTS corridors are all less than the average passenger lead (average distance travelled by a commuter), which is more than 8.58 km in PMC area, while for PCMC it is over 12 km. For these passenger leads, the route length of corridors for mass transit systems (whether BRT or conventional or rail based) needs be about 17 to 24 km as per Comprehensive Mobility Plan. This is not the case anywhere in Pune in the so-called BRTS corridors as gaps are at short distances of 600m to 1000m.

C) No continuous footpaths and cycle tracks exist along the BRTS corridors (which is a pre-condition for receiving Central Govt funding) where PMC cites unacceptable excuses of land acquisition issues & court cases. Existing footpaths continue to be illegally occupied by hawkers, vendors, garages, shops, encroachments citing Vendor’s Bill despite High Court orders to re-locate them. Because of vendors on footpaths and their businesses spilling onto MV lanes, there is conflict and burden on this balance space. Specifications of existing footpaths are not according to IRC norms 086-1983 & 103-1988.

D) Pune is the only city in the world where the concept of “mixed” BRTS is entertained. “Mixed” in PMC’s parlance means that all types of vehicles are allowed to ply on certain stretches. Presently all types of vehicles do ply on all roads not only in Pune but also in the whole country. Then why spend thousands of crores of public funds to construct “mixed” BRTS in the median that too in brown-field areas ??

E) Corridors in Pune do not cater for comfort and safety in travel i.e. without transfers points for majority of commuters. PMC has not made standardised provision for safe, well lit pedestrian crossings. PMC has not provided safe pedestrian crossings, pedestrian refuge islands, mid-section pedestrians crossings or adequate street lighting.

F) ITMS that is being installed is partial, not the complete integrated system.

G) Intersections are too wide, leaving scope for 45 deg right turns, as compared to 90 deg right turns. Corridor railings or walls are not aligned.

H) PMC has not allotted land as yet for bus depots or terminals at Wagholi & Vishrantwadi. Because of this PMPML buses will have to stand on the roads crowding it further

I) Main focus of a successful BRTS is safe, smooth, clean, comfortable and efficient system, frequency of buses, issuance of pre-board ticketing and through ticketing.

None of these complete arrangements are in place as yet.
All those addressed need to take note of what has been stated as this project is public funds jointly through Central, State & ULB. So each authority is equally responsible.

Thank you

Qaneez Sukhrani

Secretary – Nagrik Chetna Manch

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