Even as the fate of Delhi's first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor -a 14.5km stretch from Ambedkar Nagar to Delhi Gate -hangs fire, the Delhi government on Monday gave the go-ahead for an ambitious plan to construct 15 new BRT corridors spanning 359.9 kilometres.
To prevent people driving their private vehicles to the Capital's central vistas, the government has also asked the High Court-appointed special task force to prepare a concrete plan to levy congestion tax and install automatic parking meters in the Capital.
The government also cleared nine new Metro lines covering 148.2 km and a 40.3 km stretch of light rail transit (LRT) system for the Capital. The new BRT corridors, Metro lines and the LRT line will be constructed by 2021.
Senior Delhi government officials said keeping pace with growing traffic and transport demands, RITES, a central government consultancy firm on transport and infrastructure projects, had suggested these corridors in a recent report `Transport Demand Forecast and Development of Public Transport System for Delhi'.
“A 12-member special task force constituted by the Delhi High Court to look for solutions to the increasing traffic problem in the city had approved the report in May this year. By putting its stamp on the report, the Delhi Cabinet has paved the way to take these projects to the drawing board,“ said a senior Delhi government officer.
Though new Metro lines and BRT corridors have been approved to strengthen the public transport system in the Capital, senior officials said they are yet to explore how these projects will be funded.
A strong BRT and Metro network is vital for Delhi considering the rate at which private vehicles are increasing in the Capital. Delhi's vehicle count has already crossed 65 lakh and 900-1,000 new vehicles are registered everyday.
Senior Delhi government officials said the Cabinet has asked the special task force to come up with a concrete plan on how and in which areas it plans to introduce congestion charges on the lines of cities like Singapore and London. To strengthen the parking system, the Cabinet has also agreed to install automatic parking meters most commercial hubs in the city. According to a task force member, Central Market of Lajpat Nagar has been identified as a commercial centre to launch the parking meters pilot project.
“The parking meters will help do away with problems like parking more vehicles than authorised limit, unreliable and rude parking staff and overcharging,“ the member said.
“On congestion tax, we have been asked to carry out a study on roads that require congestion taxing and alternate routes for motorists that do not want to pay the tax,“ he added.
The Cabinet has also agreed to start a pilot project in Anand Vihar to map the entire residential area on Delhi's geo-spatial map to estimate how much parking space the area has and then interact with resident welfare associations to find ways to tackle the city's fast growing vehicle numbers, given the space constraints.
The Cabinet also agreed to send a reminder to the Centre to approve a bill to create Delhi Urban Mass Transit Authority -a central body to look into roads and transportation needs for the Capital.