PEDESTRIANS FIRST, an NGO that takes up issues related to pedestrians’ rights and safety, has opposed the move to scrap BRTS corridors in the city to make way for the Pune Metro services. In a letter to the Commissioner of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Kunal Kumar, Prashant Inamdar, convenor of Pedestrians First, stated, “It is learnt that a number of BRTS corridors are being scrapped to make way for the Metro. This, in effect, virtually amounts to trashing the ambitious plan for the BRT network, which was launched in Pune about 12 years ago.”
Inamdar added that the BRT corridors in Pune were planned before the Metro DPR on route plan was submitted by the DMRC in March 2009. “Two things should have happened in the matter — either the Metro route should have been planned avoiding the BRT corridors or the BRT corridors should have been reworked to avoid overlapping with the Metro corridor,” read the letter.
Pointing out the three “obvious” reasons for this, he said, “It does not make sense to have two mass transit systems running in parallel on the same route, which would also mean wastage of public money. The two mass transit systems would compete with each other, affecting the ridership and viability of both. In most cases, BRTS operation in central bus lanes may not be possible with elevated Metro pillars at the road centre in the BRT lanes.”
He added that the issue was brought to the notice of the PMC immediately after the Metro plan was known. “However, the PMC did nothing and continued to spend money on the BRTS corridors, despite knowing that these will have to be scrapped when the Metro work begins. In fact, the Nagar Road BRTS corridor was constructed and made operational, though it was to be short lived. And now, the PMC, unabashedly, admits that the Nagar Road BRTS corridor will be scrapped for the Metro,” he said.
According to the Pedestrians First, several other planned BRTS corridors have also been affected because of the Metro — Paud Road, Karve Road, J M Road, Bund Garden Road, Baner Road and Ganeshkhind Road.
“Even the pilot BRTS, on which about Rs 150 crores were spent 10 years ago, and the Katraj-Swargate segment, which is currently under renovation at Rs 75 crore, could be affected by the planned Swargate-Katraj extension of the Metro,” they said.
Inamdar asked,”How does the PMC justify the utter waste of public money because of the flawed planning of BRTS and Metro corridors, despite having prior knowledge about the specific flaws in the plans?” He added that the PMC was planning to convert BRTS corridors into feeder service.
“Basically, the purpose of the feeder service was to connect areas away from the mass transit corridors to the stations, so that a large number of people can access and use the mass transit systems. The feeder routes can also provide last-mile connectivity to the desired destinations. Thus, not only Metro but even BRTS would need feeder service.”