Monday, April 27, 2009

New BRT Guide for Decision Makers & India

The US Federal Transit Authority issued a new handbook on the Characteristics of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) for the Decision Making. This issue comes with examples and analysis on BRT applications from around the world and detailed guidelines for designing a BRT.

BRT is a growing trend.

Personally, not a fan of BRT, but I am a fan of buses, but not opposed to the idea of a functional BRT, when designed and implemented right.

The cities of Bogota and Curitiba are revered examples and while the Latin American cities have been the pioneers at it, the remaining list of cities around the world are catching up fast.

In India, for a number of cities, the push for integrated urban transport management under the JNNURM funds, and there is a growing interest in BRT, due to its appeal to the local politicians, but it is important to better understand the system for effective and speedy implementation, especially to avoid the failures of Delhi, India (one report claims, it is as good as scrapped).

In Delhi, after two years of planning and construction, only a section of 5 k
m road was opened for piloting and immediately dubbed as the “corridor of chaos” (stirring a public furor).

In Pune, the pilot BRT program failed in 2007 and for all practical purposes has been discontinued.

In Delhi, despite the teething problems in the initial two months, negative press releases primarily focusing on the operational and design issues, the BRT system received good approval
rating from the commuters in the past few months, primarily due to the improvement in the buses, convenience for the bus commuters, and the bus information systems.

However, the 5 km pilot is only a fraction of the proposed 120 km (picture to the right), which the local government body is expected to implement before the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Still, a two year effort for 5 km of pilot, does NOT support the maths - money n
or time.

In some cases, the BRT concept is considered a "euphemism" for road widening projects. For example, we can already see this happening at one junction in Delhi, "Chirag Delhi". The lane originally dedicated for cycling and walking, is now converted to a left only lane for cars. For the rest of the cycle lanes on the BRT project, motor cycles are dominating space originally intended for non-motorized transport. The photo is taken from a 3 wheeler on the pedestrian lane.

While the BRT is effective in improving the traffic conditions and creating opportunities to shift people from personal to public transport, one should consider if by just increasing the bus fleet and improving the inspection and maintenance program might create the same opportunities. This distinction and understanding of the local needs is necessary and might be cost effective, if an informed decision is made by the stakeholders.

When it comes to buses, the story is summarized in Times of India, February 8th, 2009, titled, "BRTS dream may go bust".

Tata and Ashok Leyland, together produce nearly 90 per cent of standard buses in the country but can barely deliver about 100 buses a month till they ramp up production.

Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has questioned if industry can meet this demand. Under normal market conditions, bus industry is geared to sell about 30,000 buses every year for entire country. And only a few hundred low-floor urban buses.

If each of the 3-5 million plus cities gear up to make most of the urban transport revival package offered by JNNURM and hope to add at least 2,000 buses each every year then it would mean a current requirement of 70,000 buses.

Also now, as per new JNNURM norms, bus industry will have to be prepared to produce not only standard buses but also low-floor buses which at 20 per cent come to a unprecedented 14,000 buses.

Bus industry should make the most of these funds and opportunity.. not to mention 70,000 reasons.. but too SLOW in ramping up?


Sunita Purushottam said...

As I read your posts - I feel you have fulfilled the objective of your blog..all posts provide a lot of information in short.

Anonymous said...

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