Plus & Minus

“A weekly column: Plus&Minus will be published in Hindustan Times, Jaipur Live. This will speak to the ordinary reader on contemporary economic issues in a simple format”.

    Solving the City’s Transport Problems
    Hindustan Times Jaipur Live, June 01, 2009

By Pradeep S Mehta

Signboards carrying two four-letter words have been dotting the city’s roads for quite some time. They are responsible for digging up the roads and creating some amount of discomfort to road users.

One is good news and the other not so good. The good news is the one carrying the initials: PHED or the Public Health Engineering Department. It is laying down pipelines for fresh water supplies from the Bisalpur project. Jaipur badly needs a more steady source of water supply, now that the sole source at Ramgarh is just not capable of coping with the increasing demand.

The other: BRTS is not such good news, because it is a project to create dedicated lanes for buses on major arterial roads. It is not good news because of several reasons. One is that the traffic culture in Jaipur is so bad that it will only lead to more chaos.

The other reason is that the existing roads in more than half the stretch are already so narrow that the balance of the road will have to carry a mixed traffic of slow and fast moving vehicles, jaywalkers etc who will be jostling with others all the time.

The JDA plans to have it functional by July, 2009. It is expected to cost Rs. 200 crores, half of which will come from the central government.

In principle, the BRTS is a good thing, as we have seen in Bogota, Colombia. It expands the choice of travelers to use public transport if they are assured that they will reach their destinations faster than their own vehicles. It will thus be also good for the environment. Alas, what we have not considered are the issues mentioned before.

Prof. Klaus Banse who worked extensively on the BRTS in Bogota advised against “carbon copying” the Bogota model.

The BRTS model has already been implemented in New Delhi and has already been in controversy. Terming the BRTS in the capital as a “failure”, a parliamentary committee in December 2008 has suggested that the Delhi government scrap other five approved BRT corridors and asked other cities too to exercise caution.

The 13-member Standing Committee of Urban Development headed by MP, Mohammed Salim expressed the view that a thorough scientific study of each city be should be undertaken before implementing BRTS. However, these recommendations have not dissuaded our governments to step back.

If one looks at either Delhi or Jaipur or even the other eight cities where the BRTS is being implemented, the number of motorized 2- and 4-wheeler population is rising fast, and owners of these will hesitate to move to a BRTS mode.

Perhaps an underground metro rail system maybe a better choice, even if it costs much more. Plans are also being discussed to have a metro in Jaipur, and that should be expedited. We will not have more road accidents then.

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