Almost eight years after operations on Delhi’s first Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) corridor began, the government has begun to dismantled the 5.8 km corridor in South Delhi. Four months after assuming power, the AAP government had announced that the existing system was flawed and inconvenienced the public.
The Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS), a special purpose vehicle to oversee public transport in the city, defined BRT as a means of “giving right of way to buses and safeguarding cyclists and pedestrians by encouraging lane driving on engineered road spaces along large and wide corridors and link them to metros and other colony roads for easy access. Besides giving priority to buses, the system also provides dedicated lanes for pedestrian and non-motorized vehicles like cycles and rickshaws.”
Construction of the BRT began in 2006 under the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government despite much opposition with some residents even taking the system to court. They complained that travel time in cars had increased and emphasised their right to ply on the bus-only corridors.
In 2012, The Delhi high court dismissed the plea that sought to scrap the project. “A developed country is not one where the poor own cars. It is one where the rich use public transport,” the HC had ruled.
In July 2016, four months after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in Delhi, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had announced that the government had given in-principle approval to scrapping the BRT corridor.
In March 2015, five MLAs from the assembly constituencies directly affected by the 5.8-km BRT corridor between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand had written to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, urging him to expedite the process of scrapping the corridor.
The previous AAP dispensation that held office for 49 days in 2014, had also been in favour of doing away with the BRT stretch in south Delhi. In the letter, the MLAs, including former transport minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, had stated, “We are not opposed to the concept of BRT. But for the last six to seven years, this BRT corridor has not served its purpose at all. It has greatly inconvenienced the residents of the area”
So even as the AAP government is slated to start demolishing the corridor on Tuesday afternoon, it has maintained that BRT as a concept was not bad but it’s implementation in Delhi had been faulty.
Last month, Kejriwal had said that the government proposes to build two tier elevated roads in place of the BRT. Transport minister Gopal Rai, who also held a seminar to review the implementation of BRT in other cities like Ahmedabad, had earlier said that prima facie BRT was suited for large peripheral roads in outer Delhi.