Traffic bottlenecks in Amritsar: SOPs overlooked in BRTS plan


Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, January 11

Even after the coming up of mega infrastructure projects like elevated roads and the bus rapid transit system (BRTS) worth around Rs 930 crore during the past decade or so, traffic scenario in the city is yet to be streamlined.

Instead of easing the flow of traffic, they have instead resulted in more bottlenecks. Urban planning experts are of the view that many standard operating procedures (SOP) associated with city mass transport the world over are not being complied with as far as the BRTS is concerned.

Prof Ashwani Luthra, head of Guru Ramdas School of Planning at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), who studied contemporary transport scenario in the holy city, said road network has not developed as per the master plan.

Raised with an investment of nearly Rs 600 crore, the BRTS does not adhere to several SOPs like not allowing auto-rickshaws and other small modes of transport to operate on roads where BRTS buses, called metro buses, are being plied. Overcrowding of passengers is normal in autos with passengers in five auto-rickshaws almost taking up the passenger share of a bus which has a strict time schedule to follow. These should actually be feeding passengers to the metro buses.

Similarly, the distance between two bus stops of metro buses should not exceed 500 meters and no at-grade crossing should be there. Both these norms were not complied with. Junction-to-junction distance has increased. At many places, cycle tracks made along the BRTS route are not barrier-free.

Constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 350 crore, the 4.5 km long elevated road also failed its purpose of offering a convenient ride to tourists coming by road. It increased the inflow of commuters and tourists arriving by the GT road but they eventually find themselves stuck in the congested city roads. Ideally, it should have been connected with the ISBT to facilitate the smooth flow of buses.

Satnam Singh, who operates a hotel in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, said most tourists complain of frequent and prolonged traffic jams on city roads.

DC Harpreet Singh Sudan said traffic management was the only solution. With the incorporation of mega infra projects, pace of urbanisation and rise in floating population, traffic has increased manifold in the city in the last decade and more, he said.