Pune: After much back and forth, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) started dismantling the bus rapid transit system (BRTS) stretch on the Pune-Ahmednagar Road, between Yerawada to Vimannagar Chowk (Phoenix Mall), on Saturday. The clamour grew to scrap the BRTS on the stretch with the ruling as well as opposition leaders urging PMC to open the lane for all vehicles, citing traffic congestion.
Although the BRTS was first introduced in Pune on Satara Road between Swargate and Katraj, it was extended to Ahmednagar Road as well in 2016. The 14-km-long route up to Wagholi currently has 13 BRT stations on the segregated 7.86-km section from Yerawada to Aaple Ghar, and 25 bus routes to serve various destinations in the corridor’s vicinity.
As Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (Maha-Metro) began its rail work on the Ahmednagar Road, the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) stopped plying buses from the dedicated corridor of BRTS since past three years between Parnakuti (Yerawada) Chowk to Vimannagar Chowk. The stretch is almost 3.50 kilometre in length.
“We have started work to remove BRTS in a limited stretch between Parnakuti to Vimannagar Chowk which has not been functioning for two and a half years due to the metro rail work. Pune police commissioner Retesh Kumaar and traffic police have also suggested scrapping BRTS from Ahmednagar Road area. We are removing BRTS on an experimental basis. It will be restored after the metro alignment problem is sorted out,” said Vikas Dhakane, additional municipal commissioner.
Vijay Magar, deputy commissioner of police (traffic) said, “We have written to PMC to remove BRTS on Ahmednagar Road which is creating traffic congestion and it has become an accident-prone spot due to non-functional BRTS.”
Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Vadgaon Sheri constituency Sunil Tingre had raised the issue during an assembly session and Ajit Pawar had also expressed his concern after inspecting the BRTS stretch. Residents and NGOs said that the BRTS route is not only causing traffic congestion, but also obstruction to rainwater flow.
Following Tingre’s demand, PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar constituted a committee of officials from PMC road department officials and PMPML who visited the spot. Though the panel did not disclose the decision due to the G20 delegation visiting the city, PMC began dismantling the stretch ahead of monsoon.
‘I have been repeatedly asking for the construction of BRT route to fix the traffic problem on city roads. Finally, PMC and the traffic police have decided to try out the closed BRT route from Gunjan Chowk to Hyatt Hotel and it is a positive step,” Tingre said.
Civic activist Qaneez Sukhrani said, “The decision should have come many years ago. The BRTS was an encumbrance for everyone, especially after metro works started.” Sukhrani alleged that Maha-Metro is using the corridors to dump debris, excess material garbage, and park vehicles from Parnakutti to Shastrinagar.
Om Prakash Bakoria, chairman and managing director, PMPML, did not respond to messages and calls.
A senior PMPML official said, “It is a bad decision to scrap BRTS due to metro works. Only the 200-300 metre stretch between Parnakuti and Gunjan Chowk needs to have been addressed. Though PMC is claiming it is an experimental one, I think the route will not be resumed.”
The BRTS Ahmednagar Road stretch starts from Parnakuti Chowk (Yerawada), Gunjan Chowk, Shastrinnagar Chowk, Ramwadi, Weikfield Junction to Aaple Ghar (Kharadi). Metro pillars are planned from Parnakuti to Gunjan Chowk BRTS lane, and from Ramwadi Junction to Weikfield Chowk.