Last-ditch effort to revive Rs 600-cr BRTS project

AMRITSAR: The SAD-BJP’s Rs 600-crore ambitious Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Amritsar has failed to fructify as envisioned.

Last-ditch effort to revive Rs 600-cr BRTS project

BRTS buses lying defunct in Amritsar. Photo: Vishal Kumar

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27

The SAD-BJP’s Rs 600-crore ambitious Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Amritsar has failed to fructify as envisioned.

Taking into account the money already pumped in jointly by the Centre and state government on equal sharing basis, the Amarinder Singh government has constituted a ministers’ panel to gauge the viability of the project.

As per the proposal, in all 93 low-floor AC buses were to be commissioned in the 31-km dedicated BRT corridors on the three key corridors diverging from the central core, connecting India Gate on the western side, whereas Verka and Duburji areas in the east of the city.

The project is headed by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB). The first phase of the project (from India Gate on the Amritsar-Attari bypass road to the Amritsar railway station) was flagged off by then Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal on December 15, 2016. The fare was charged between Rs 10 and Rs 15 per head.

Apparently, the competition from autos, which scored over the BRTS with lesser waiting time and cheaper travel, was not factored in. Presently, just nine buses are plying, whereas at least nearly 70 buses have been gathering dust at the BRTS depot near Verka.

Two routes (from India Gate on the Amritsar-Attari bypass road to the Amritsar railway station and from near the Mall Road to the Batala Road) wore a deserted look as no buses ply on them.

Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said a comprehensive traffic management plan was on the cards to provide a viable solution to the maddening traffic of the holy city visited by over 1 lakh tourists daily.

“To run BRTS efficiently, we need to slot in the city bus service proportionally. For that, the supporting infrastructure like vital flyovers should be there to decongest traffic. We focus to increase the frequency of bus service which will be cost effective, safe and efficient. At present, we have a lot of 150 buses which are lying defunct. If the PIDB manages to fund at least Rs 30 crore immediately, the buses can be placed on track,” he said.

The BRTS project led to further chaos and commuting on city roads. In the absence of any check, most of its ‘dedicated’ lanes are being misutilised by commuters.

Executive Engineer, PWD, JS Sodhi said, “If the designated routes are made fully operational, there will be no hitch in making it a convenient public transport”.

Naresh Johar, a resident, said: “Buses arrive after half an hour. How could the government expect commuters to wait for so long”.

Another resident Jagdish Singh said: “It was launched pre-maturely to garner votes by the SAD-BJP government, but it never worked”.

Proposed corridor routes

Atari Road – ISBT to India Gate via Bhandari Bridge, GNDU, Chheharta (12 km)

Jalandhar Road – ISBT to MCA Gate via Tarawalan Pul (6 km)

Verka Road – ISBT to Verka via Hussainpura Bridge, GT Road Bypass (13 km)

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