To B or not to B: Weighing the BRTS option for OMR

Residents of OMR attended a public consultation for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit System in Chennai but remain apprehensive about the project and its utility for them. Here's why.

Last week the consultants tasked with preparing the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the BRTS invited us to a meeting. A few of us from FOMRRA (Federation of OMR Resident Associations), representing citizens living and using OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road), went to the meeting.

The show started with some short films on the “successfully implemented projects” in Pune, Amdavad, Hubli-Dharwad and others. As the consultation started more than an hour late, they breezed through a PowerPoint presentation. However, we, who follow the mass transit planning and development studies associated with OMR, found that most of the data presented was based on an outdated 2011 report by ITDP. We also found that very little data, especially in terms of vehicle numbers, had been updated and the figures quoted rarely matched with the data that FOMRRA had collected.

Given the fact that OMR is owned/managed by the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC), there was no clarity about the partnership between the two – the toll collecting wing of the government which promises 6 lanes plus service lanes for the toll collected, and the BRTS, which is going to reduce the available number of lanes to 4. Will this reduce the toll rates?

As OMR residents, we believe that any “cut and paste” or “one size fits all” solution that could apply to any other part of Chennai cannot work in OMR because of its unique ecosystem. What we require here is a supplementary feeder service that will enable citizens living in the interior areas to reach the central median of OMR – alignment of the new metro rail system.

Most of the “high quality features” that the consultants were pitching — such as tracking, air conditioned buses and stops, accessibility, etc — can easily be implemented in the current bus system itself. Just because the existing bus and metro system are not disabled-friendly, we don’t go about building an entirely new system. We can solve these issues by strategically building ramps, escalators and elevators. The MTC has already announced that they will be making some buses on all routes disabled-friendly.

As representatives of welfare associations of OMR, we want the consultants to go back to the drawing board and propose a customised solution that would work for our area.


  1. Sriram says:

    The entire BRTS idea seems to be ITDP’s brainchild as that seems to be their only agenda. With the city firmly embracing the Metro, most of the proposed corridors overlap the two phases of metro rail and need to be redone. However, the consultants can’t be blamed as the corridors have been selected by ITDP and Govt of Tamil Nadu

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