The bus rapid transit system (BRTS) projects in both Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada are in the final stages and it is expected that they will be commssioned in 2013, as trial runs have been completed recently at both the places.

Both projects have suffered delays by two or threee years, as they should have been completed in 2010. The projects have been taken up with funds from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURUM), with the Union Government bearing half of the cost.

The two projects were taken up in 2008. The Visakhapatnam BRTS project comprises two corridors - Penduthy corridor and Simhachalam corridor - with a total length of 42 km, estimated to cost Rs 450 crore.

Comparatively, the Vijayawada BRTS project is a smaller one, covering only 15.5 km, at an estimated cost of Rs 150 crore.

The Vijayawada BRTS dedicated corridor originates at the police control room and it covers railway station, C.K. Reddy road, Satyanarayanapuram, Machavaram, Ramavarappadu ring road, NTR Health University, Benz Circle, the Mahatma Gandhi road and finally terminates again at the police control room.

The BRTS project in Vijayawada has come in for criticism from oppositon parties and several other agencies.

The critics argue that the BRTS project does not really address the problem of traffic congestion in the busy areas of the city such as Governorpeta, Suryaraopeta and Autonagar. It is argued that the project will not make much impact, as it covers only the peripheral areas.

The authorities have found it difficult to persuade the Navy and the East Coast Railway to give up their lands for the project and the project hit a roadblock. Finally, after many efforts, the Navy and the East Coast Railway finally agreed to give up their lands for the project and to take land offered by the GVMC in lieu of it.

The success of a BRTS system depends on the bus fares and the facilities provided to the passengers so that dependence on private transport is reduced. It remains to be seen how far the authorities will succeed in operating the BRTS systems in the fast-developing coastal cities.

(This article was published on December 17, 2012)
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