AMRITSAR METROBUS BEGINS TO DRAW PASSENGERS

Amritsar Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), popularly known as Amritsar Metrobus begins to draw passengers enormously after the initial lukewarm response. The BRT network was relaunched on 28th January 2019 by Chief Minister Shri. Navjot Singh Sidhu. The project was earlier inaugurated by former Deputy Chief Minister Shri. Sukhbir Singh Badal in 2016, but failed to draw passengers. Since the relaunch in January the ridership has been continuously increasing. From 7600 passengers on first day of operations, the ridership has gone above 90000 passengers per day, which is higher than the average daily ridership of many metro systems in India.

The 31 km BRTS corridor has three bus routes namely India Gate to Verka, Verka to Amritsar Entry Gate and from India Gate to Amritsar Entry Gate with a fleet of 97 buses running at frequency of 5 minutes. BRT route also includes a 3-km elevated bus corridor, first of its kind in India, running along the general bus terminus. The system is an initiative of Punjab Bus Metro Society (PBMS), formed with an objective to promote public transport in urban Areas of Punjab.

The services have been relaunched with the free travel facility for first three months till April 28th after which the minimum fare would be Rs. 5 upto 3 kms, Rs 10 upto 6 kms, Rs 15 upto 12 kms, Rs 20 upto 20 kms and further increasing at Rs 1 per Km. In order to encourage the use of public transport daily, smart card tickets are also introduced and the authorities had already sold more than 8000 smart cards till February, and about 700 cards are being sold daily. The system also offers concessional travel to senior citizens and college students as well as free travel for school going children. The authorities also launched a mobile application with real time tracking of buses, location of nearby stations, ticketing as well as to recharge the smart cards.

Amritsar Metrobus has also ensured the passenger comfort with completely air-conditioned buses and CCTV surveillance both at stations and inside buses for safety. The overwhelming response received by BRTS has in fact caused resentment among IPT operators who were earlier only transport service provider in the absence of formal public transport systems. The BRT system has received a good response from the residents who prefer metro buses now to other modes of transportation and has indeed requested for a public transport system in other congested roads in Amritsar.

The success of Amritsar Metrobus is highly appreciative as it has fostered the concept of a BRT in mid-size and smaller cities for efficient public transport systems at comparatively low budget and has strengthened the potential of free public transport to attract passengers.