Who should be blamed for BRTS lane accidents?

In Pune, BRTS as a project is used for getting political mileage. It is true that the BRTS lane on the Swargate-Hadapsar route has become a nuisance and threat to people’s life. As a concept, BRTS is very good and is considered to be the most economical mass transport system, but only if it is implemented and enforced in the right manner. In our city, BRTS as a project is used for achieving political mileage, wherein the pre-conditions to run a proper BRTS system is totally overlooked.
Various objections to the new BRTS being implemented on the Alandi route. They had taken a trial run, which itself was not properly done. From the pilot project to the newer ones, the routes are only partly BRTS. The problem in Pune is that the BRTS as a concept has not been localized and implemented.  It is surprising that though the pilot BRTS project was started in the city seven years ago, neither PMC nor PMPML have a dedicated BRTS cell, to look after the management of the project. Implementation of the project and enforcement to manage the project are two different things.
The accidents that are taking place on the BRTS lanes have nothing to do with the BRTS as a system. When this mass transportation system is implemented there are conditions that need to be fulfilled. When they are implementing BRTS on a route, the entire design of the road has to be changed, they cannot just do some random cosmetic changes and start BRTS mass transportation project. The entire length-width of the road has to be designed in a particular manner. However, the authorities are just concentrating on the central BRTS lane and completely neglecting the general traffic lane. They are doing nothing about the design and enforcement part of the lanes for other vehicles, cycles, parking space, approach roads and hawkers. In the pilot BRTS project for the city, they made a mistake of just focusing on bus lanes and bus stops. This negligence towards other factors is leading to traffic congestion on the motor vehicle lane and then people naturally encroach on the bus lane, which looks empty. The BRTS lanes should be made a no-tolerance zone, wherein traffic defaulters are strictly dealt with.
The major problem with the BRTS mass transport system in Pune is that it is not implemented properly. The actual BRTS system and what is being implemented in Pune are not the same. Citizens are blaming the BRTS, but as a system of mass transportation it has no flaws, what has gone wrong is its implementation. When BRTS was introduced in Pune, people were not aware of such a concept. Even though a proper study was done by design agency, the implementation did not happen in the right way. When you are putting a dedicated lane in the middle of the road, there are various parameters, which have to be met. There was no public awareness drive carried out as to what new traffic rules have to be followed by the citizens on the BRTS routes. The basic aim to start BRTS in the city was to encourage people to use bus transport rather than their private vehicles. The bus accommodates 50 people, whereas a car has seats for 4 persons, so bus transport system has to be given priority.
In Pune, people blatantly violate traffic rules in absence of traffic police. Vehicle drivers follow rules only when they see a traffic police manning the road, otherwise they have no fear or guilt to break traffic rules. The recent accident on the Swargate BRTS lane, wherein two teenagers lost their lives, happened because of their own mistake of taking the wrong lane, in the wrong direction and driving without a driving licence. Everyone blamed the BRTS but nobody mentioned their faults. It is not possible for the traffic police to man the whole BRTS route everyday, when will the public be aware of the traffic rules. In such road accidents, the blame is always put on the bus driver, even if it is not his fault. The poor driver immediately looses his job. With the new BRTS route on the Ahmednagar road, there are various precautions being taken for pedestrian safety.

The civic administration and PMPML should first sort out and improve their pilot BRTS project on the Pune-Sholapur highway, before they concentrate on other BRTS projects in the city. It seems as if they have given up on Sholapur BRTS route. They should work on their mistakes and learn from previous experience. While they are in the process of developing the BRTS route on the Pune-Ahmednagar road, there is inadequate street lighting, no warning signals that the work is in progress and other safety measures. Citizens are not against the BRTS mass transportation system, but implement the plan taking the citizens into confidence, have meetings with citizens for their suggestions and have transparency in it.

Source: dnaindia, Nov’13

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