Buses, mini-buses and BRTS

Pune has close to 1000 new vehicles added to its roads EVERY DAY! Prabhaag 36 sees a large part of this private traffic weaving through Karve Road, Bhandarkar Road and the bylanes. Is there any solution to resolving this clogging of our streets?

Amit Paranjape’s blog post on this issue calls for “an improved regular bus transit system. We need many more routes, with higher frequencies, and well maintained buses. We need mini-buses to enable good routes to crowded areas in the city center.  High frequency mini-buses are also needed because the relatively short distances that people cover can, otherwise, be done by private vehicles. The bus service needs to operate with well-designed point-to-point, circular and hub-and-spoke routes. We also need long range buses that have less stops for the longer routes (e.g. Deccan to Hinjavdi” The BJP election manifesto for our Prabhaag had promised us mini-buses that would run around Bhandarkar Road-Prabhat Road loop, which would increase connectivity to Deccan. Implementing this election promise would be a crucial step in changing the way people in our Prabhaag move around.

Bus bay created on FC Road

Do we need an expanded BRT or should we fix the existing one first, asks NSCC in its letter to the Commissioner, copied below here These important questions are relevant to our Prabhaag since a BRTS has been proposed in the DP on Karve Road and FC Road..

National Society for Clean Cities, Pune 

Pune a Clean City – Clean in Every Which Way

To: Mr. Mahesh Pathak, IAS, Municipal Commissioner

Cc: Mr. Anup Kumar Yadav, IAS, Additional Municipal Commissioner

 We at National Society for Clean Cities, Pune, believe that BRTS, if planned, executed and implemented, systematically and transparently, can be an essential part of a mass transit integrated mobility system. We had also noted works going on Nagar and Alandi roads and when enquiring with PMC learnt that PMC was implementing a BRTS..

With this in mind we approached PMC and they and PMC’s consultants Urban Mass Transit Company Ltd kindly and readily made presentations at a meeting of mohalla committees at Nagar Road Ward Office and at our monthly meeting in Wadke Hall in Dec 2012..

The impression we gathered was as follows:

1. Construction & Implementation Issues:

  • An end–to-end and edge-to-edge simultaneous and integrated BRTS implementation is not being carried out.
  • Construction work has started on the median for the bus route with construction of the bus shelters.
  • There was no information on the construction of footpaths, service roads, parking bays, cycle paths, pedestrian crossings and traffic signals.
  • Whether tenders had been called for? Whether contracts were signed? The time schedule for completion?
  • We also learned that the entire route had not been been cleared of encroachments and that there were bottlenecks due to non-acquisition of land or pending litigation.

Just the construction of bus shelters and marking out bus lanes cannot be categorised as implementation of BRTS..

2. Operational Issues:

The presentations raised a no. of operational issues especially with the proposed “Mixed BRTS” planned. These are e.g.:

  • The functioning of on-board / off-board ticketing as well as dual doors on all buses for the mixed BRTS.
  • Will commuters buy on-board tickets for the non-BRTS section of their journey and thereafter disembark and buy an off-board BRTS ticket to re-embark on the same bus?
  • Would this require a conductor to be available for the entire route with optional provision for off-board and on-board ticketing?
  • There seems to be no areas planned near the Bus Shelters for parking of personal vehicles and for rickshaws etc.
  • There has been no information on providing systems of GPS monitoring of buses and providing information to commuters on board and at bus stations.

There seems to be a view that a trial and error process will somehow sort out the problems over a period of time..

3. Metro & BRTS over the same road:

The Metro project First Phase  route is planned to be running down the Nagar Road. Also it will be on the same roads as the extended BRTS route from the Pune Station to Yerewada.

  • Is there an integrated mobility plan which shows how the Metro and BRTS will complement each other?
  • Further as well as provision for shared land and infrastructure should have been taken into consideration.
  • Is it necessary to provide two new modes of mass transit going down the same road?
  • Or would the money be better spent by providing for one of the new mass transit modes on another route?

4. Public Outreach:

Besides the exercise carried out at the behest of NSCC, there has been no efforts to reach out to the public who after all are to use the BRTS and live in the neighbourhood of these routes. It s in the interest of PMC and JNNURM that an extensive public outreach programme is carried out which should involve all stakeholders including even those sections of the public which is not going to use the BRTS buses but will use the BRTS to walk, cross, cycle and drive private vehicles . Otherwise, the criticism and misunderstandings during and ever since then of the original pilot project would perpetuate..

5. Our Suggestion:

We are forced to conclude that PMC refuses to learn from the history of the BRTS in Pune. We are constrained to note that the same errors which continue to persist even now after 5+ years with the first pilot project along Katraj – Hadasar route are apparently being repeated at the ongoing BRTS projects at Alandi and Nagar Roads. Hence, NSCC feels it very necessary that instead of again experimenting on new routes, it is essential that PMC carry out modifications and rectifications of the BRTS route on the Katraj – Hadasar route. The advantages of doing so are:

  • PMC will be able to learn if the proposed changes in the construction work well.
  • Also be able sort out the operational issues.
  • By then there will be some more clarity on the Metro routes and the issues raised above.
  • It will get enough time to reach out to residents and get them to accept the BRTS concept..

We once again reiterate that BRTS is essential and we would like to see it operate efficiently in Pune. However , we trust that due consideration will be given to our concerns as enumerated above.

Thanks and Regards..

For National Society for Clean Cities, Pune

Satish Khot                         Gautam Idnani

President                                     Secretary