Even as the authorities explore possibility of an elevated route for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the city,transport experts are not impressed with the idea.
While Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided on two pilot routes on the Eastern and Western Express Highways,consultants are now studying the feasibility of an elevated BRT corridor.
According to Sudhir Badami,transport expert and member of the steering committee set up by the MMRDA to monitor BRTS,the consultants suggestion of an elevated corridor is not a good idea as it would involve higher cost and take more time. There are several points that go against the elevated bus route. The cost of construction will be Rs 45 crore per km for civil work in addition to Rs 15 crore per km for the fleet. While the on road (grade),BRT would cost Rs 5 crore per km and Rs 10 crore per km for the fleet, Badami said. The construction time for the 25 km viaduct on both routes will also be very long,he added.
According to Badami,the consultants had in the last steering committee meeting suggested the passenger carrying capacity on the two routes was 15,000 persons per hour per direction (pphpd). But the carrying capacity has been stated very conservatively. By our computations and international experience,the figure could be much higher. Bogota experience on conditions similar to the Express Highways,has achieved as high a capacity as 45,000 pphpd and Sao Paulo has 35,000 pphpd and Porto Alegre 28,000 pphpd as against consultants upper figure of 15,000 pphpd for elevated corridor and 10,000 pphpd for Median Side option. This,in my opinion,is a gross misleading statement. It almost equates its performance with that of Monorail,while it provides much better capacity and performance, Badami said.
He added that another major concern for an elevated bus route would be that ramps would have to be provided for buses to come up and down in case of breakdown. These ramps will ultimately lead to dead road space on a side lane which is narrow,leading to congestions there, he maintained.
Badami also stated that the MMRDA is not prioritising to set up BRT system in a city which is desperately seeking a better,cheaper and quick means of transportation. I have one major question to ask from MMRDA: whether it is at all interested in making serious attempt in expeditiously attending to the most atrocious overload of suburban railway commuters as well as those of road congestion in Mumbai? Steering committee should look at this aspect very seriously. It cannot look at BRT in isolation and cater to marginal improvement of bus service, he said.