The Nigdi-Dapodi Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRTS) route which started on August 24 by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), is facing hurdles in its smooth running, particularly in the Phugewadi area.
According to daily commuters and civic activists, the main reason behind the mess is the traffic signal and crisscrossing of vehicles from the Express Lane Service Road and the Dapodi area.
Activists say if this traffic signal is shut, it will help ease the massive daily traffic congestion. As, through the day, the Phugewadi stretch of the Pune-Mumbai highway witnesses traffic snarls.
Vehicles coming from Pimpri-Bhosari-Kasarwadi take a right turn at the Phugewadi traffic signal to head for Dapodi, Sangvi and Aundh areas. Vehicles coming from the Phugewadi bridge use the traffic signal to head for Pune City and Pimpri areas.
Besides, the confusion arises when the vehicles coming from the Express Lane criss-cross to the service lane and those coming from service lane cross over to the Express Lane to take a right turn at the signal.
As a result, there is complete traffic madness through the day. The situation worsens in the evening as snarls up to Dapodi and Kasarwadi become common.
The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) buses, which move seamlessly from Kasarwadi to Phugewadi and from Dapodi to Phugewadi through the dedicated BRTS lane, come to a standstill at the Phugewadi signal because of the chaos.
“There is a chaos through the day. Evening are the worst. The traffic police disappear after 9 to 9.30 pm, leading to uncontrollable chaos,” said local residents.
Civic activists say if the traffic signal is shut, vehicles which take a right turn can move little ahead till CME Gate and take a U-turn to head for Dapodi. Also, they have the second option of going up to Harris Bridge at Dapodi and take a left turn to move towards Bopodi, Dapodi, Sangvi, and Aundh.
“Actually, vehicles which take [a] right turn at Phugewadi traffic signal are not primarily of those who live in Dapodi area. They are basically from Sangvi and Aundh areas. For them, the newly-built Harris Bridge is the best option. Before June, there is used to be only one bridge where massive congestion was common. Now PCMC has built another bridge because of which traffic snarls have lessened. Vehicles heading to Sangvi and Aundh can easily make use of the newly-built parallel bridge,” said civic activist Shridhar Chalka.
Another activist Munir Ramdurg said besides the Harris Bridge option, vehicles heading to Dapodi, Sangvi and Aundh can take a U-turn at CME Gate signal and then move on to Phugewadi Bridge.
“This will ensure that the traffic flow, including BRTS buses, is not affected in Dapodi-Phugewadi area. Otherwise, this area has become the biggest headache on the Pune-Mumbai highway stretch,” said Ramdurg.
Another activist said there is also a third option for vehicles heading to Dapodi.
“This is railway gate at Dapodi. But since railway gate is often closed, they can take U-turn at CME Gate and head on to Dapodi Bridge,” said activist Deepak Pardeshi.
Chalka said there is anyway a minuscule number of vehicles which take a left turn at Phugewadi signal to head for Pune. “These are vehicles coming out of Dapodi area, which are close to the bridge. They always have the option of using the Dapodi-Bopodi bridge, which will land them straight at [the] Bopodi traffic signal. It is unfathomable why they use the chaotic Phugewadi traffic signal to head for Pune,” he said.
“If they do not want to use the Dapodi-Bopodi bridge, they can use the Phugewadi subway to head for Khadki and Pune city areas,” he added.
Vijay Bhojne, who heads PCMC’s BRTS department, said PCMC is committed to ensuring smooth flow of BRTS buses.
“We are looking at the option of shutting down [the] Phugewadi traffic signal. But for this traffic police will have to take the initiative. We have already set up a four-member committee. We will go by the recommendations of the committee,” he said.
When contacted for his comment, Additional Police Commissioner Makrand Ranade said the traffic police will study the suggestion and then take appropriate action.