Come February 16th and it will be a crucial day for the first Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) proposal for Bangalore. Karnataka’s Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) has called for a meeting of the BDA, BMTC, Rail India Technical and Economic Society (RITES) and Infrastructure Development Corporation ( Karnataka) Limited (iDECK) on that day to discuss the BRTS proposal. In BRTS, BMTC buses will run higher speeds than usual in part because of dedicates bus lanes, allowing commuters to reach destinations faster.
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Mohammad Mohsin, Member Convenor, Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA) and Director, Urban Land Transport, says that the meeting is being held to review the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Hebbal-Central Silk Board sector. A DPR is a base document for planning a project and implementing it. It includes technical specifications, schedule plan, investment decision-making and so on.
The BRTS along the Outer Ring Road (ORR) between Central Silk Board and Hebbal junctions is a 29.6 km stretch and will be taken up as the first project after Cabinet approval. Mohsin says that project will cost approximately Rs 15 crores per kilometre.
The DPR for the BRTS was commissioned by the BDA from RITES and iDECK, with the former responsible for technical content and the latter for the financing plan. RITES in a Government of India enterprise. Deputy General Manager of RITES, S Jyothirmayee says that they originally submitted the DPR to iDECK way back in November 2007. iDECK is a 10-year-old joint venture firm between the Government of Karnataka (GoK), Infrastructure Development Finance Company Ltd. (IDFC), and Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC). "iDECK submitted it to the BDA in the first week of December 2007," says Jyothirmayee.
After a series of a meetings, nothing concrete happened with regard to this plan, says Jyothirmayee, adding that the BDA wanted certain modifications to the report. Subsequently, as the BDA planned on making ORR signal-free, with seven to eight grade separator projects, Jyothirmayee says that they were then asked to make changes to the DPR. She says that they resubmitted the DPR in December 2009 through iDECK.
After the February 16th meeting, Mohsin says that the BMLTA will organise a public consultation, the date of which will be announced soon. The BMLTA will also organise a workshop on BRTS on February 26th, for the benefit of various stakeholders in the government and some NGOs. After this, the DPR will be placed before the BMLTA committee headed by the Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, he adds. "After the approval (of) the BMLTA the matter will be going before the Cabinet for approval. It is difficult to give time line but government is serious to implement it as fast as possible," says Mohsin.
BDA to incorporate bus lanes in ORR grade separator projects
BDA’s Executive Engineer (Infrastructure Division 1 – Central Silk Board to KR Puram along Outer Ring Road), Nagaraj Murthy, says they are studying the DPR. He says BRTS corridors will be incorporated across ten grade separator projects that are being planned on ORR at the following junctions – HSR 14th Main, Agara, Iblur, Bellandur, Devarabeesanahalli, Kadusbeesanahalli, Mahadevapura, Kalyannagar, Hennur and Veerannapalya.
Take the case of the Agara and Iblur flyover projects. The Iblur flyover design already includes two BRTS lanes, each measuring 3.5 meters in width and 642 meters in length. A bus bay measuring 2.5 meters in width, is also indicated in the drawing. In the Agara project drawing, the bus lanes are indicated in between the flyovers, measuring 0.6 meters in width. One of the bus lanes will be directed towards Iblur and the other towards Silk Board. You can read a detailed report on these flyover designs here.
Murthy says that at the February 16th meeting, the BDA will insist on funding from the BMTC as they will benefit the most from the BRTS.
Citizens interact with DULT Chief over BRT
On January 20th 2010, Citizen Matters published the BRTS proposal, authored by Mohsin. In response to this, several readers wrote in with questions on the proposal. While some were apprehensive about the project itself, others asked why existing modes of transport were not being strengthened. Mohsin responded to these queries and suggestions.
He noted that BRTS is a step towards strengthening the existing bus service. Once the Central Silk Board-Hebbal corridor project is done, he says it will be taken up on other major corridors, phase-wise. One reader Srivatsa Vajapeyam suggested building of a single-lane magic underpass (like the one at Cauvery junction) at a junction/signal so that buses do not have to wait at the signal. Mohsin said that the DULT will consider this suggestion of magic boxes designed only for BRT buses. Mohsin also said that there is no space inside the city for dedicated bus corridors, but there is space at Ring Roads and major roads which have to be redesigned with some geometric adjustments and engineering.
Even as Mohsin says that no timeframe can be given for implementing BRTS, all eyes will now be on the February 16th meeting, called by the DULT. ⊕