Delhi government slams critical report on bus corridor (Lead)

July 23rd, 2012 - 11:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Delhi government Monday criticised the Central Road Research Institute’s (CRRI) critical report on the bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor here and rejected it in the Delhi High Court.

Senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the state before the bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, termed the report “unconstitutional” and irrational as it ignored the rights of bus commuters.

“It is a completely irrational approach. Their concern are car users but not the bus users. For them, a poor person is not entitled to travel fast. The value of time for poor is less important for them,” said Tulsi.

“Bus users are non-persons to them as they have not taken the opinion of bus users while conducting the trial runs,” he said.

The government’s reply came after analysing the CRRI report that criticised the corridor for traffic congestion and backed allowing cars to use the road lanes reserved for buses.

The 5.8-km stretch of BRT corridor — between Moolchand and Ambedkar Nagar in south Delhi — was introduced in 2008 and designed on the model of Bogota city in Colombia to make bus and bicycle travel safer and faster, and encourage travel that did not involve cars.

The court hearing the case posted the matter for Aug 13 and 14 for final hearing on arguments.

The purpose of the BRT project was served as the buses moved faster on the lane marked for them, claimed an affidavit filed by the state government.

“The objective of the BRT project was to provide comfortable and faster public transport so that the private vehicle users may get induced to switch to public transport system,” it said.

The court earlier asked the CRRI to study the BRT corridor and submit a report.

The CRRI in its report, prepared after trial runs on the corridor, suggested that “NO BRT” option yielded better benefits for this corridor with the given traffic conditions.

“The result of the experimental trial run reiterated the fact that the allowing of other vehicles to ply on the earmarked lane for buses yielded better benefits for all the road users as compared to the BRT situation,” said the report submitted July 16.

“The value of fuel loss due to continuation of BRT corridor was calculated by taking the difference between normal BRT operations and the trial run. It came around Rs.2.48 crore per annum. This estimated monetary loss is for cars alone and when other vehicles are considered, the loss could be much higher,” said the report.

During the trial run, the report said, fuel loss due to traffic congestion reduced by 32 percent in case of petrol vehicles, while for diesel vehicles it went down by 46 percent.

Appearing for intervener NGO National Alliance of People’s Movements, advocate Prashant Bhushan also slammed the report while supporting the BRT corridor.

He said the BRT project had been successful in other countries and the court should reject the CRRI report as it was absurd and trash.

Bhushan questioned the method adopted by the CRRI for its report and said: “The CRRI report is utterly absurd and trash, which deserved the dustbin. If it would be given to a statistician, he will give a big zero.”

NGO Nyay Bhoomi’s president B.B. Sahran, who filed PIL in the court, sought the initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the transport department officials for non-compliance of its earlier order.

The Delhi High Court had earlier directed the city government to continue with the arrangement made by the CRRI during the experimental trial run on BRT between May 12 and May 23 this year till the court’s final order.

The PIL filed in the court sought direction to the Delhi government to allow three and four-wheelers to run on the BRT corridor, reserved for buses, during non-peak hours.

The petitioner said the BRT system had created more chaos and heavy traffic jams in car lanes, without any conspicuous advantage to bus users.

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