The third Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) between Nigdi and Dapodi, which was expected to ease the traffic situation in the area, did anything but that on Friday, when the much-delayed BRTS track finally became operational. Utter chaos prevailed and commuters had a harrowing time due to lack of planning and coordination between the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited and Pune Traffic Police.
The BRTS was officially launched at 12.30 pm, when Pimpri Mayor Rahul Jadhav flagged off the first vehicle on the route, at around 12.30 pm. Deputy Mayor Sachin Chinchwade, Standing Committee chairperson Mamata Gaikwad, Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar and PMPML chairperson Nayana Gunde were also present at the event.
However, problems soon surfaced at Akurdi, Chinchwad and Pimpri Chowk, when pedestrians tried to cross the road, ignoring the buzzing traffic. The traffic logjam was worse outside the PCMC headquarters due to the ongoing Metro work and the lack of a dedicated track.
The stretch between Nashik Phata and Kasarwadi also saw its own share of chaos, with traffic clogging up at short intervals. Near the Marshall company, vehicles kept crossing over from the express lane and on to the service road, even as buses tried to squeeze into the dedicated track, creating more chaos. Pune Metro project officials didn’t take any steps — such as providing barricades or helping manage traffic — to ease the situation.
Several buses used the service road as the drivers either failed to notice the dedicated track or could not reach the track due to the traffic congestion. The vehicular quagmire between Dapodi and Phugewadi kept getting worse as the day wore on.
PCMC officials admitted that there were problems on the BRTS launch day, and said they didn’t receive sufficient support from the traffic police and PMPML. “We had problems… mainly at Akurdi and Kasarwadi. The traffic police did not provide adequate manpower. It will take some time for things to settle down, “said Vijay Bhojne, in charge of PCMC’s BRTS department.
Bhojne said many buses skipped the BRTS track entirely as it seemed PMPML had failed to inform its drivers about the launch of the track. Denying the charge, PMPML chief Nayana Gunde said, “We have given proper training to our drivers. The merge in, merge out could be creating problems for drivers, It will take a couple of days for drivers to get used to the new situation.
Pimpri Chinchwad police spokesperson Satish Patil said they were facing a manpower crunch and could not provide enough police personnel on Friday. “But PCMC officials told us that they will manage the situation with traffic wardens, “ he said, adding that from Saturday, they would provide more police personnel.
Traffic Police inspector Arun Ombase, however, said the problem was likely to persist as work on Pune Metro project was also going on simultaneously.