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The Nigdi-Dapodi dedicated lane is being monitored by the Bombay High Court. (Express photo by Manoj More)
Nearly two months after the Nigdi-Dapodi BRTS was started on the Pune-Mumbai Highway, it seems to be gaining acceptance among commuters. The BRTS has cut down the travel time on the stretch, where traffic jams had been a major issue for a long period. “After initial hiccups, all is well on the dedicated BRTS lane now,” said Vijay Bhojane, who heads the PCMC’s BRTS department. “There has been no mishap on the route. Initially, there were some breakdowns of buses but now we hardly receive such reports,” he said.
The travel time from Nigdi to Dapodi and from Nashik Phata to Bopodi has reduced considerably. “Before August 24, it used to take 30 to 40 minutes to cover a short distance of four km from Nashik Phata to Bopodi signal,” said Hrishikesh Marale, a resident of Kasarwadi. “Now, the travel time has come down to 8 to 10 minutes. Sometimes, it is even less,” he added.
Deepak Pardeshi, a resident of Nehrunagar, said the travel time between Nigdi and Dapodi could have reduced much more. “But it seems there is a lack of coordination between PCMC and MahaMetro. The traffic situation is bad in Pimpri-Kharalwadi area as Metro work is hindering movement of vehicles,” he said.
However, civic activist Amol Deshpande said the BRTS is still limping nearly two months after it started. “There is confusion among commuters regarding alighting and boarding. The announcement system on several buses does not work. The digital boards at bus stations are also not working. At several bus stations, even the seating arrangement is not adequate,” he said.
Bhojane said they have conducted a survey and found that digital boards were functioning at the bus stations, but the announcement system inside the buses were missing. “We will take up the issue with the PMPML,” he said. Deshpande also alleged that private buses continue to flout traffic norms. “They are brazenly using the dedicated lane while the traffic wardens remain spectators,” he said. To this, Bhojane said they are in talks with the traffic police to help stop intrusion of private vehicles in the dedicated lane.
Police Commissioner R K Padmanabhan said they are taking action against the BRTS violators. “We are sending challans to the residence of the violators,” he said, adding that the traffic police department was hampered by the shortage of staff. Meanwhile, PCMC corporator Geeta Mancharkar said traffic police and PCMC should work together to remove the encroachments lining the highway, adding that after the BRTS lane was set up, the road width had shrunk considerably. “The encroachments along the highway have added to the chaos,” she said.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said BRTS was on track now. “We are committed to ensuring smooth movement of PMPML buses through the dedicated lane, which will help commuters reach their destination quickly,” he said. Hardikar added that the PMC was also trying to lay a dedicated lane from Bopodi. “If this happens, from Nigdi to PMC headquarters, commuters from Pimpri-Chinchwad will enjoy smooth movement at a cheaper rate than their private vehicles,” he said.
The Nigdi-Dapodi dedicated lane is being monitored by the Bombay High Court. The PCMC will have to submit a safety audit report, carried out by IIT Bombay, before the court. “During the next hearing, we will submit the report before the HC,” said Bhojane.
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