One contemporary issue which I feel very strongly about has been the BRT or the Bus Rapid Transit Corridor, a path breaking initiative of the Delhi government which unfortunately has been receiving censure from all quarters, media as well as the public. It saddens me to see that the media is slowly but steadily becoming cynical and fails to present to us the positive developments in the public realm.
Much before the project began operation, a leading national daily labelled it as ineffective and useless expenditure. Sheer irresponsible journalism I say! Let us now look into the whole issue in depth. The Bus Rapid Transit corridor essentially is a separate space on the road solely for buses. It is an effective way of channelizing traffic and reduces the risk of accidents. On the Moolchand – Ambedkar Nagar stretch the government has made three passages, one for buses, one for cycles and pedestrians and the third for all the rest of the traffic. The main argument against the BRT has been the reduction of road space, thus increasing the travel time and jams. I agree that during the first few days chaotic jams ensued but that was mainly due to the ignorance of the commuters as nobody knew what was happening. If only the media had devoted a little time and energy on explaining the whole procedure than diatribes, it would have been so much more helpful.
Now after two months since it began, complaints have been few and far. One of the reasons behind this project has been to refurbish the whole public transport system of the city. New, low rail buses have been ordered especially for this project and slowly, the killer Bluelines will be phased out. Not only will this give a much needed facelift to the flailing public transport system, it will also popularize it, which should in the long run help in reducing the traffic on the roads. Every day, a staggering 1000 vehicles are added onto the Delhi roads while the road space has remained static. Buses are used by a majority of the commuters as against private vehicles which are one too many and in minority. Now with the Nano around the corner, the danger of worsening jams is a reality. If however the public transport system, rather the buses are functioning efficiently, a hassle free travel would induce people to use buses rather than their own vehicles. This will also lead to a reduction in the emission levels, another growing concern in today’s world. Another extremely significant feature of this project is the convenience to the physically challenged/disabled or people with other impairments. The buses are all low railed and wheel chair friendly and so are the transit ramps. There are audio announcements and visual display of relevant information inside the buses to facilitate travel. Using buses had previously never been an option for the differently abled .
After the Metro, this has been the second initiative of the proactive Delhi Government which has however failed to make its intended mark. Unfortunately, the government buckled under pressure and has stopped work on the BRT on other road stretches. This project assumes so much more significance in the light of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Delhi will surely seem to be a more organized city with both the Metro and BRT in place. A lot of times we become judgmental and without a thought decide on what is right or wrong. Like opposition parties in India, the media too often negates any kind of good work or new project of the government. When did we last see the media talk about the returns of the NREGS? The blame game is easy but it can never lead to anything fruitful.