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Mixed opinion over BRTS project

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FOR A SMOOTH RIDE: An image of the Bus Rapid Transit System that the Coimbatore Corporation plans to implement in the city.
FOR A SMOOTH RIDE: An image of the Bus Rapid Transit System that the Coimbatore Corporation plans to implement in the city.

Special Correspondent

Inadequate road width, a cause for scepticism

COIMBATORE: After the initial enthusiasm over the proposal for a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) for the city, there is scepticism now in the Coimbatore Corporation over the possibility of implementing it. Inadequate road width is being cited as the main reason for the scepticism.

The Rs.730-crore proposal involves the provision of two dedicated lanes for the buses that are operated with the intelligent transport system. People at the bus stops will know when exactly the vehicle will arrive where they are waiting and passengers will know how close they are to their destination. Announcements to this effect will be made at the bus stops and in the buses.

But, the city needs roads broad enough for this service to take off, point out Corporation officials. Those involved in city infrastructure planning cite the accidents involving BRTS in a couple of other cities.

There have been cases of passengers of BRTS getting hit by other vehicle while crossing the road.

The BRTS lanes are in the middle of the road and wherever there is no escalator to cross the road, such accidents have occurred.

This is the major reason for the scepticism in Coimbatore, says an official. The Corporation plans to have BRTS on Avanashi Road, Tiruchi Road and Mettupalayam Road.

These are more or less straight roads ideal for this bus system. But, there are doubts over space.

Avanashi Road is being provided with six lanes. But, there are doubts whether this will provided the desired space for the existing vehicles and also for parking.

In such a situation, city development planners in the Corporation feel that BRTS lanes in the middle of the road may not be possible as there may not be enough space for escalators from either end of the road. Elevated BRTS lanes, like the Mass Rapid Transit System in Chennai, are an option.

But, space for access modes (such as stairs or escalators) for passengers to reach the bus stops remains doubtful. The only way out is having a lane each along either side. But, this idea clashes with the demand for parking space for other vehicles. Something will have to be done to overcome this problem.

There is no point in allowing scepticism to rule, say Corporation authorities. Mayor R. Venkatachalam is among those who advise against approaching the scheme with pessimism. The city needs state-of-the-art transport system to move up in stature, he says.

“There is no need for any pessimism. Avanashi Road and Tiruchi Road have enough space for BRTS. Both these roads are in dire need of this service to decongest them. Safe approach facilities can be provided for the passengers,” says the Mayor. Mr. Venkatachalam, however, admits there may be shortage of space at some points on Mettupalayam Road. “This stretch can have electrical multiple unit train service. With Thudialur and Perianaickenpalayam having stations, a train service from the city to Mettupalayam will cover the city areas and suburbs on this stretch.”

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