Friday, August 22, 2008

Delhi : Jammin'

I spent most of my time in Delhi on BRTC. 'Bread, Rice, Coffee and Tomatoes?' asked a friend. You wish.
BRTC is Delhi's Bus Rapid Transport Corridor. A good plan, but badly executed. It covers an almost 6km long stretch of road in densely populated South Delhi. It is supposed to be on trial. It is a trial - to commuters. Unfortunately for us, who are visitors to Delhi, it covered the distance between where we stay when we visit, and where our children live.
The idea of a dedicated bus corridor with well-built, comfortable buses that provide a regular service should have been put into practice long ago.See how good the new buses look?.
Delhi's public transport system has been in need of improvement since the 1970s, at least. Its buses have always been over-crowded, ramshackle, and irregular. Not to mention the horror stories of women commuters, or the number of people on the roads who are killed by rash bus drivers.

The BRTC is carved up into three lanes on either side of the central divider. 'These are as ugly as Kolkata's tramlines', said our friend Saumitro, 'but at least you can cut across those!' Cars far outnumber buses and two-wheelers in Delhi. They should have been provided with wider lanes for smoother and faster movement. Take a look at these deserted lanes. These are the lanes for buses and two-wheelers.

The BRTC idea is far better suited to Delhi than the Metro, says my brother.
'But how many years will it take us to learn discipline?' he adds. We still have a long way to go.

What’s worse than being stuck on the BRTC?
Listening to the bad jokes about BRTC.
However, when we saw this sign, that said, Delhi's Smart New Way to Travel' I couldn’t help adding 'Is To Stay in One Place'.
The driver of our auto rickshaw threw his head back and laughed in appreciation. He gave me a smiling salute at the end of our ride. Another day, we were saying how it would be realistic to celebrate one's birthday on the road, since no one could reach the party on time. At which that day's auto driver turned around to ask, 'Aaj aapka birthday hai?' (Is it your birthday today?) The husband said, 'Nahi, lekin aise baithhne se ho bhi jaayega' (If we sit long enough it will be my birthday soon). We were all fellow sufferers. The best crack came from one of the drivers himself. BRTC, he said, stood for 'Bahut Ruk ke Traffic Chalti hai' (I guess that would translate to But Really, Traffic Crawls. For us, who neither work nor live in Delhi, it was merely tedious. I felt for the cheerful three-wheeler drivers, who lost a lot of time - and fares - everyday. And almost forgave the surly ones who refused to take us.