Substantial Scope: BRT systems yet to make an impact

BRT systems yet to make an impact

A bus rapid transit (BRT) system is a high quality, bus-based transit network that delivers fast, comfortable and cost-effective bus services within the city. It consists of dedicated bus lanes and bus stations and is usually aligned in the centre of the road. Being counted among the most effective mass rapid transit systems across the world, BRT systems are considered to be more reliable, convenient and faster than regular bus services in cities and require lower investment than metro rail networks and light rail transit (LRT) systems.

The major advantages of this transit mode are its high capacity design, high durability, environment-friendly nature, reduced travel time, improved traffic safety, lower investment cost and reduced road congestion.

Expansion of BRT networks

India’s BRT network has increased significantly from 2009 to 2018. The operational network increased from 30 km in 2009 to about 360 km by mid-2018. Currently, the transit system is operational in 11 cities – Ahmedabad (115.6 km), Indore (11.65 km), Rajkot (10.7 km), Bhopal (23 km), Pune (16 km), Amritsar (25 km), Jaipur (42 km), Naya Raipur (6.59 km), Surat (29.9 km), Visakhapatnam (43.36 km) and Pimpri-Chinchwad (35.59 km).

Meanwhile, the BRT system in Hubli Dharwad is currently at the development stage. It will span a length of 22.25 km along the Hubli-Dharwad state highway and comprise two corridors – Hosur Circle to Dharwad Central Bus Terminus (CBT) (Corridor 1, 19.5 km) and Hosur Circle to Hubli CBT via Rani Channamma Circle and the Hubli railway station (Corridor 2, 2.75 km). In October 2018, trial runs were conducted for the project, which is likely to be operational by end November 2018.

Meanwhile, BRT projects are being proposed for another five cities on a pilot basis, covering an overall distance of 166.2 km. Besides, plans are also afoot for expanding the existing BRT corridors in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune and Indore.

In Nagpur, Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited is planning to develop a BRT system, spanning a length of 22.5 km, to operate on the Amravati, Katol, Karadi and Umrer roads, at an estimated cost of Rs 4.5 billion. A comprehensive mobility plan is being prepared for the project. The Delhi government has proposed the revival of the BRT system in the city by introducing an express bus service (also called BRT 2.0) from Karawal Nagar to the Mori Gate bus terminal, covering a distance of 13 km. It has already appointed Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS) for conducting the feasibility study for the corridor.

Moreover, the municipal corporations of Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune are currently in the process of carrying out preliminary works for expanding the existing BRT networks in the respective cities. The Indore Municipal Corporation has proposed the development of another 14 km long BRT system on the Super Corridor in the city. Besides, the feasibility study and detailed project report preparation is under way for the recently announced BRT projects in Hyderabad (9 km), Chennai (96.7 km) and Kochi (25 km).

Key challenges

Even though the BRT network has expanded considerably over the years and is planned to be expanded further, the system has not been very successful in India. For instance, the Delhi BRT was dismantled in 2016 owing to poor planning, low frequency and poor connectivity. Besides, the BRT systems in Surat, Bhopal and Indore have also failed to meet their core objectives of increasing public transport users and reducing the number of road accidents.

Besides, land acquisition issues, implementation delays, poor planning, and poor civic and traffic sense are other issues that affect the success of BRT projects. To address these issues, measures such as proper planning, deployment of advanced technologies, adequate financing, strict traffic vigilance, effective coordination among stakeholders, proper connectivity to bus stations, etc., are required to be taken. This can effectively help in converting the failed BRT model to an efficient and reliable mode of public transport.