Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems have emerged as a successful mode of public transport to solve issues such as congestion, delays, accidents, etc. The major advantages of this mode lie in its high capacity design, high durability and the use of artificial intelligence. Between 2009 and 2016, the number of operational BRT systems in the country increased from three to 10. The operational network also increased from 30 km in 2009 to 298 km at the end of 2016.
Current operational BRT systems
BRT systems are currently operational in the cities of Ahmedabad, Indore, Jaipur, Naya Raipur, Rajkot, Bhopal, Surat, Pune, Visakhapatnam and Amritsar. Together, these systems cover a total length of 298.26 km with about 775 buses operating under these projects.
Two of the earliest BRT systems – the Delhi BRT and the Pune BRT (pilot) – failed to meet with much success. In 2006, Pune experimented with a BRT system. The 13 km pilot corridor failed to implement many standard BRT features and was only moderately successful. Today, the routes are largely served by traditional bus operations. The Delhi BRT system commenced operations in 2008 with a total length of 5.8 km. However, the system was dismantled in 2016.
One of the most successful BRT systems in the country, the 97 km Ahmedabad BRT system commenced operations in 2009. About 250 buses operate on 16 routes covered by the system, and the current average daily ridership is about 130,000 passengers.
In 2012, Rajkot became the second city in Gujarat to launch a BRT system. The system spans 10.7 km from the Jamnagar crossroad to the Gondal crossroad and has an average daily ridership of 15,000-17,000 passengers.
A year later, in 2013, the Surat BRT system spanning a total length of 29.9 km commenced commercial operations, taking the total length of operational BRT systems in Gujarat to over 137 km. In the same year, two BRT systems in Madhya Pradesh, the Indore BRT and the Bhopal BRT, commenced operations. The Bhopal BRT covers a total length of 23 km from Misrod to Bairagarh. The Indore BRT covers a length of 11.57 km from Niranjanpur to Rajiv Gandhi Square. It is divided into three stretches – Stretch l from Niranjanpur to LIG Square; Stretch 2 from LIG Square to Holkar College and Stretch 3 from Holkar College to Rajiv Gandhi Square.
Later, in 2015, the Jaipur BRT project commenced commercial operations. The system spans 8.5 km along the Queen’s Road-B2 Bypass corridor via New Sanganer Road and has 21 bus stops and shelters.
The Rainbow BRT serving the twin cities of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad also commenced operations in 2015. The system covers a total length of over 38 km. In Pune, the BRT system covers two corridors – Nagar Road and Sangamwadi-Vishrantwadi – spanning over 16 km. The other two corridors – Sangvi Phata-Kiwale and Nashik Phata-Wakad – covering a total length of 22 km are a part of the Pimpri-Chinchwad BRT system.
In 2016, three BRT systems commenced operations – the Naya Raipur BRT (6.59 km), the Visakhapatnam BRT (42 km) and the Amritsar BRT (31 km).
Issues and implementation challenges
At present, there are two major issues that act as roadblocks to the implementation of BRT projects – land acquisition issues and delays in obtaining clearances from the concerned authorities. Besides, poorly planned implementation of BRT systems has led to some failures as well. For instance, the Delhi BRT was dismantled in 2016 due to the lack of proper implementation, failed trial runs, low frequency of buses and a lack of integration with other means of rapid transit such as the metro. Further, various land procurement-related issues also delay the development of BRT systems. For instance, the Jaipur BRT project faced several obstacles as the Jaipur Development Authority – responsible for the development of the BRT – had to demolish over two dozen structures.
The way forward
Various steps can be taken to help implement BRT systems efficiently. The installation of BRT-exclusive lanes can effectively improve the operational efficiency of the BRT system and the passenger carrying capacity. Further, intelligent transport systems consisting of bus signal time preference, automatic vehicle location systems, passenger information systems and smart fare collection should also be considered while planning BRT systems. Moreover, green energy technologies such as installing solar panels on buses and bus stops can also be considered.
Given the rapidly increasing urban population, there is tremendous pressure on the existing modes of transport systems. Thus, the adoption of better techno-management practices, proper planning and adequate budgetary provisions for funding can make BRT systems an effective and efficient mode of public transport.