'More buses needed to wean people to public transport system'

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New Delhi, Jan 16 (UNI) Experts at a SIAM meet today called for introducing more number of sleek modern buses, with level boarding and alighting facilities, to encourage people to opt for the public transport system.

This is necessary to do away with huge congestion problems, pollution, accidents, energy crisis and global warming they said at a seminar on National Consultation on Urban Bus Based Transportation Solutions organised by the Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) here.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr M Ramachandran, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, said, ''Many of the cities do not have any organised public transport system, even after 60 years of Independence. Only about 20 cities have some kind of urban city service.'' Calling for a complete overhauling and enhancement of fleet, he said the present city buses which are uncomfortable, unreliable and unfit for the disabled, should be replaced with ergonomically designed buses, having wider doors and windows with level boarding and alighting, comfortable seats and suspension and equipped with public address system and ITS-enabled and vehicle tracking systems.

He said the Government is taking up Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) as a cost effective solution for providing high quality public transport service in urban areas.

At present, BRTS is being taken up in eight cities, namely, Pune/Pimpri Chinchwad, Ahemdabad, Indore, Bhopal, Vijayawada, Vishakhapatnam, Jaipur and Rajkot involving a length of 310 Kms at a total cost of Rs 2740 crore. More such projects on public-private participation basis are needed to strengthen the public transport system in the country, he said.

Delhi is also implementing BRTS as a State Government funded project, he added.

Giving details about London's bus network, which is the most comprehensive bus system in the world, Mr Howard S Potter, Director, Transportation Planning International, London, said bus ridership has increased 75 percent in past 15 years while there has been an increase in car ownership from 48 percent in 1971 to 65 percent in 2001.

He said for success of a bus system, it needs to be politically backed, and enjoys the support from environmentalists too, apart from efficient management.

He said segregation of vehicles on the road is a must and there should be dedicated lanes for buses.

Speaking about the initiatives of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), its Managing Director Upendra Tripathy said the Corporation has introduced specialised services like daily and monthly passes and insurance policies, special services during peak hours etc and luxury Volvo buses (Vajra series), to entice people to opt for the bus.

Mr Dinesh Mohan, the brain behind the high capacity bus system, in his presentation threw a challenge to auto makers to come up with a low-floor air-conditioned bus at Rs 20 lakh. ''If Tatas can come out with a Rs one lakh car, why not a Rs 20 lakh bus?'' he asked.

UNI MMG MSJ RK1705

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