Pod taxis scrapped to make way for elevated corridors in Bengaluru

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BENGALURU: Governments usually scrap projects that are controversial. But here, the much-hyped Personal Rapid Transit System (PRTS), simply called pod taxi, proposed by former Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George during the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, now stands to be scrapped to make way for the controversial elevated corridors.

A senior BBMP official confirmed to TNIE: “The BBMP council cleared the subject and sent it to the government for cabinet approval. But since the stretches identified by BBMP and the bidder were coming in the way of the elevated corridor and new Metro line, the project is to be scrapped and priority given to the elevated corridor.” BBMP had finalized the bidder and sent the proposal to the state government for approval after the Council cleared the project.

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BBMP had called for tenders in December 2017, and the sole bidder was a consortium of Smart Personal Rapid Transit Systems Pvt. Ltd, Ultra PRT Ltd, and Embassy Property Developments Pvt Ltd. The project was to be taken up under Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer (DBFOT) for which the bidder had quoted revenue sharing of Rs 6.5 crore to BBMP, for project implementation.

The bidders had proposed to build the network between Ujwala Metro Station in Whitefield and Trinity Metro Station with a total route length of 35km and 43 stations in the first phase. There were to be 12 major PRT stations along this stretch — Agram, Domlur, Hotel Leela Palace, BEML, HAL Airport, Ferns City (Marathahalli), Gandhi Nagar, Brookfield, Parimala Sunridge, Nallurahalli, Virginia Mall and Whitefield.

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BBMP had estimated building the infrastructure at Rs 50 crore/km and asked bidders to finance the project themselves. The concession period was to be for 20 years. However, earlier, the state government had proposed to build 75km of elevated roads and asked BBMP to conduct a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project in 2015. The project was later handed over to the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) which completed the feasibility report in December 2017, extending the corridor from 75km to 92km.

M Ganesh, managing director, KRDCL, said, “The project was already sanctioned by the government and we are currently working on the DPR. Once we get clearance from other government agencies, we will start the elevated corridor project,” he said. Meanwhile, Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited will be taking up construction work between Byappanahalli and Whitefield, which is part of Phase 2.

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