Pimpri-Chinchwad’s first BRTS and Pune’s second, from Sangvi to Kiwale, got cracking on Saturday even as politicians, especially from the NCP, scrambled for a photo opportunity.
The BRTS route service was inaugurated by former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, whose writ runs in PCMC, as was the BRTS route on PMC terrain last week.
Sangvi-Kiwale route could well be the “costliest” BRTS among the four routes to be launched by PCMC on its terrain.
On September 12, 2008, Ajit Pawar had performed the bhoomi pujan for the Aundh-Ravet route, renamed as Sangvi-Kiwale route. It was then estimated to cost Rs 238 crore. But in the past seven years, its cost has jumped to Rs 530 crore.
“This means, the 14.5-km route has cost Rs 36 crore per kilometre for PCMC,” an official said on the condition of anonymity.
However, PCMC’s BRTS cell head Vijay Bhojne said the actual cost was around Rs 300 crore. “If the cost of bridges built by Pradhikaran and other infrastructure is added up, then the cost goes up to over Rs 500 crore,” he said.
Bhojne, however, conceded that the infrastructure on the route was primarily created out to support the BRTS plan.
Meanwhile, through the day, PCMC and PMPML had planned to run 110 buses which were set to make 1000 trips on the route. “The ridership would be around one lakh for the day. The passengers are guided by the staff deployed at the bus stops,” Bhojne said, adding that one bus will be available on the route every three minutes.
Unlike the PMC which had announced free service for a month when it launched its first BRTS last week between Sangamwadi and Vishrantwadi, PCMC has decided to provide free service only for two days – Saturday and Sunday. The decision follows Ajit Pawar’s comment urging PMC to desist from providing free service on its BRTS route.
“In PMC too, the free service will now be available only up to September 9. After that, passengers will have to pay normal charges,” said PMPML CEO (BRTS) Mayura Shindekar.
One of the major problems the BRTS is likely to face relates to breakdown of buses as there is little room to manouvre on the route.
However, officials said it would not be much of a problem to remove the failed buses. “As soon as a bus break downs, a message will be relayed to the control room which will warn other buses to exit from the nearest chowk,” said Bhojne. There will be at least 10 “breakdown buses” at hand which will move the failed bus away from the BRTS routes. “It will be done in about five to six minutes. The traffic on the route would not be affected,” Bhojne said.
PCMC commissioner Rajeev Jadhav said the second route between Bhosari and Wakad would be launched in less than two months. “Everything was smooth with the first route and now we will gear up for launching the second route,” he said. Shindekar said they would install ITMS system on Bhosari-Wakad route in month. “In October, the second route in PCMC should start.”