Bus Rapid Transport for Bangalore, today or tomorrow?

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or High Capacity Bus System (HCBS) is a high quality, ultra modern, customer oriented transit option that could deliver fast, comfortable and cost-effective urban mobility, quite similar to metro rail.

Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) incorporates most of the high-quality aspects of metro systems without high investments. BRT was developed as a viable transit option in Latin America, where urban planners were seeking cost effective solution for the urban transport dilemma. This highly effective and economical mass transit option is now a way of life in many developing as well as developed countries such as China, Taiwan, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Japan, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, England, France and so on.

Commissioner Mohammad Mohsin of the Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA) is placing this note on the proposed BRT for Bangalore for public discussion. BRT is seen as a cost effective method to deploy high quality rapid transit in cities.

Please comment below the article. The commissioner also plans to organise a public discussion following this. The policy will then go through approvals at the BMLTA itself and then the state cabinet, according to the commissioner. 

BRT is an integrated system of facilities, equipment, services and amenities that improves the speed, reliability and identity of bus transit. BRTS is globally recognised as one of the most cost effective solution for providing high quality public transport service in urban areas. The BRT is operational in the world’s major cities like Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Bogotá, Santiago and also Beijing, Taipei and Hanoi, where it has proved a hit with the masses.

Why BRT?

• Urgent need for efficient mass transport system.
• Scope for both low density and high density passenger movement.
• Low cost transit solution.
• Less time for planning and construction, more flexibility.
• Higher speed with little delay for buses.
• Vital component of overall transport plan for the city.
• Wider reach.
• Can be operated according to the city ethos.
• Scope for public private synergy.
• Environment friendly.

BRTS terminal

BRTS bus terminal(pic courtesy: Mohammed Mohsin)

Main features of BRTS:

• Dedicated (bus-only) running ways (preferably, physically separated from other traffic)
• Accessible, safe, secure and attractive stations.
• Easy-to-board, attractive and environmentally friendly vehicles.
• Efficient (preferably off-board) fare collection.
• Its applications to provide real-time passenger information, signal priority and service command/control.
• Frequent, all-day service.
• At-grade bus lanes preferred for increasing commuter access, operational flexibility and reducing costs.
• Priority for buses at intersections.
• Urban / low floor buses.
• Properly designed bus shelters for efficient and safe boarding / alighting.
• Pedestrian facilities for ‘along’ and ‘across’ movements.
• Inter-modal integration through single ticketing for seamless travel.

Advantages of introducing BRTS:

• Most flexible rapid transit mode for cost-effectively serving the broad variety of urban and suburban environments and markets.
• It suits to all section of society by its classy service.
• Reduction in road accidents as Latin American experience suggests that 50 per cent to 80 per cent accidents came down.
• Can operate on arterial streets, in freeway medians, on freeway shoulders and alongside freeways.
• Can accommodate express and local services on a single facility.
• Can be less costly to implement than a rail transit line while providing similar benefits.
• Can be effectively integrated into surrounding environment and can generate significant urban development benefits.
• It has got self financing abilities because of good revenue model.
• It is energy efficient (20 per cent to 30 per cent fuel saving) and environment friendly as it reduces congestion in the area.
• It can speed up the city traffic as dedicated lane operations double up the speed.
• Have little additional implementation cost over local bus service where it runs on streets and highways.
• BRT can handle passenger flows in the range of about 8,000 to 20,000 passengers per hour per direction – depending upon the lanes (number, type) dedicated to bus system.
• In Bogota (Columbia), with provision of two bus lanes throughout for each direction, exclusive ROW, restriction on crossing traffic, state of art station design with automated gates and extensive usage of IT systems in passenger information, ticketing and operation of buses – up to 42,000 PHPDT capacity has been reported.
• The segregation of non-motorised modes will reduce the friction between slow and fast moving vehicles and improve the efficiency as well as safety of all road users.
• Separate pedestrian paths duly segregated with the help of guard rails and disabled friendly ramps will encourage pedestrians to walk on footpath.
• The overall objective of the planning of BRT System is to ensure that commuters are discouraged to use personalised modes and shift to public transport with a better bus transport system being made available along the corridor.

BRTS terminal

BRTS bus terminal(pic courtesy: Mohammed Mohsin)

Its application – components

• Operations control
• Fare collection
• Passenger information system
• Traffic signaling / ATC

Disadvatages of introducing BRTS:

• Impacts due to project location, construction works and project operation.
• Loss of trees.
• Land acquisition.
• Priority signalisation for BRT cannot be given at junctions.

Design of a BRT station:

Integration of a BRT system in an urban setting presents within itself a challenge and an opportunity to improve and enrich the existing streetscapes. Design such as a shelter is to support an appealing, cohesive visual identity for a quality and safe transit service. Some of the important design features are:

• Modularity for easy expansion and relocation
• Passenger holding area based on boarding – alighting demand
• Electronic passenger information system
• Safety
• Accessible to disabled
• Sufficient advertising space – for additional revenue generation
• Climate responsive

If BRT station is at the junction then many buses cannot utilise green signal since the earlier bus blocks the bus bay because it is waiting at the red signal. This results in long queues and bunching of buses and slows down the BRT system. This may result in unwanted pedestrian behavior as a result of wanting to reach bus stop.

Advatages of having central bus lanes:

• Exclusivity of bus operation.
• No side friction with service road cuts/ property access points/ side roads.
• Provides flexibility for adoption of closed system.
• Better suited for priority signaling.
• Separate left turning motor vehicle lane possible at junctions.
• Permits use of additional width on left side for on-street parking, IPT stands, emergency stoppage areas.
• Uses same road width/ area as for exclusive side bus lane, thereby not requiring any additional tree-cutting or modification/ shifting of medians.
• Allows flexible use of opposite bus lane for emergency movement of buses, without disturbing other traffic lanes.

Disadvanges of having central bus lanes:

• Induces weaving between bus lanes and motor vehicle lanes at either ends of flyovers.

Failure of Delhi, Pune – BRTS:

• One of the main reasons for the failure of the Delhi BRT was that it did not take the people along with it.
• A very limited route of BRT or we can say sample size is too small.
• Other buses also ply on the BRT stretch, creating confusion for passengers regarding bus routes and resulting in chaos at the stations.
• No designated bus lanes were provided (physical barriers).

BRT system- Ahmedabad

With the launch of BRTS at Ahmadabad, the city now gets around 25 BRTS buses plying on a 12.5 kilometer stretch from RTO to Chandra Nagar of the total 55 kilometer of phase one. This is the first such full fledged BRTS project in the country because similar projects in Delhi and Pune do not carry systems like control room, IT infrastructure, dedicated buses and so on. The Delhi BRT, rather, is primarily a road infrastructure project or high-capacity bus service in which all types of buses run in a lane designed for the BRTS.

BRT system on ORR – Bangalore: from Hebbal to Silk Board junction

The Comprehensive Transport and Traffic Plan for Bangalore suggests that BRT can be done for 291.5 kilometer at a cost of 3498 crores in two phases in 14 corridors. The proposal is to develop BRT system on the ORR as a pilot project.The bus system would have a dedicated corridor and operate new technology buses designed for urban environment. Some of the salient features of the proposed BRT include:

• Open BRT system with central / median bus lanes.
• Bus routes to have flexibility to join / leave the BRT corridor at any intersection.
• Bus stops at approach arms of intersections for improved commuter access (reduced walking distances) and, utilising ‘red time’ at intersections. Some bust stops also proposed at midblock locations with high bus passenger catchment.
• All public transport buses to use BRT corridor.
• Redesign of road cross-section by utilising additional median width and undeveloped shoulders.
• Increased overall road width and capacity, 3 motor vehicle lanes retained with additional proposed one bus lane plus one non-motor vehicle lane for either direction.
• Additional one motor vehicle and one bus lane at most intersections.
• Cross pedestrian facilities through at-grade signaled crossings for user friendliness.
• Physical segregation of bus, non-motor vehicles and motor vehicles lanes.
• Existing service roads retained.
• Integration with existing infrastructure projects viz. flyovers, underpasses et cetera.
• Flexible pavement for complete cross section.
• On street parking not desirable on any part of row.
• Existing central median to be largely kept undisturbed in order to save on utility shifting, tree cutting and ease of construction.

Bangalore needs such system to reduce the congestion and speed up the traffic as BRT with use of ITS give a leading edge as the transporter is always in control and passenger will be in focus in real time.

Traffic control, traffic information and fleet management can be very easy for the benefit of transport company and as well as public. It is a win – win situation for the public as well the authorities.


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25 Comments

  1. It appears that only the comments chosen by the Author Mr Mohammed Mohsin are printed and comments inconvimient to him (like what I had sent) are suppressed. This fact should be made clear to all the readers. The General perception is that all view points will be published. MSR

  2. Dear Sanjay.
    I appreciate your concern and that is why i shared this information so that the citizens of Bangalore can give useful comments. these can be utlised at appopriate time. In the coming days details can be shared at a suitable platform for this purpose.
    Thanks.

  3. Dear Mr. Mohsin,
    I think the BRTS itself is a very good idea, provided it is implemented carefully, as part of a larger land transport plan. Personally, my fear is always in the quality of implementation. In my experience in this city so far, the design of the infrastructure built generally leaves much to be desired. The plans sound great, but often, the end product tends to be disappointing.

    Do you propose to give us a chance to review the detailed plans (road design, bus stop design, pedestrian infrastructure, signalization plan, bus design, multi-modal integration plans). There are several people I can think of who would love to look at the documents and provide constructive feedback.

  4. Dear Sanjay

    JNNURM funding are released for implementing agencies like BMTC, BBMP, KSRTC etc. likewise TTMCs have been taken out by BMTC. Hence, the above can be rightly answered by BMTC. Also, the issue of TTMC has not been taken into discussion under BMLTA platform.
    We are looking for a good integrating facility with the other modes of transportation including metro rail, mono rail etc. Let us start and take the first step and initiate this BRTS project.
    Thank you

  5. Dear Ashwin,
    In regard to the proposals on BRT in Bangalore I would like to tell you that right now we have proposed the BRT system for the ~29km stretch from Hebbal to Silk board junction as the pilot project, as I have said to all our dear readers. We will be looking forward to other major corridors in the future.
    I agree to you point that BRTS is slightly further stage in Ahmedabad but we can try and do much better than that, in Delhi the condition is worst because of some implementation issues. There is always a saying “Learn from others Mistakes “we will try our best to do the best.
    For your next question is there space in Bangalore roads for dedicated bus corridors. I would like to tell NO as well as YES, NO inside the city but YES at ring roads and the major roads which have to be redesigned with some geometric adjustments and engineering is required.
    Thank you.

  6. Mr. Srivatsava Vajapeyam.
    Thank you very much for giving your views on the design aspects Mr. Srivatsava. We will consider some of the points such as magic boxes at the junctions which will be designed only for the BRT buses.
    As I have already said to most of our dear readers that this is a trail run, which is taken up as a pilot project for the specific stretch of the road from Hebbal to Silk board junction and we will be looking forward for extensions for the other major corridors in the future.
    Thank you

  7. Mr . Debamitro Chakraborti
    Thank you for your support and hope we have the constructive response from others.

    Thank you

  8. Dear Vinay thank you for your kind comments.
    I would like to inform you that bus users were surveyed at all the bus stops regarding the BRT project by the concerned consultants all along the corridor from hebbal to silkboard junction. Also a BMTC is the consulting authority.Achieving Grid based system in Bangalore is very difficult but still we are looking forward for better connectivity and implementation of BRT lanes on all the other major corridors in the city.
    Thank you.

  9. Dear Raj.
    If Delhi ,Ahmedabad , Pune, Indore, jaipur and others can do it or doing it. why we cant do it. Lets make thing better. Thanks.

  10. Mr. Mohsin,

    Thanks for the reply. I wish you all the best in your endeavor.

    Regards,
    Subramanya Prasad.

  11. Dear B Dutta, We do have the proposal to have the BRT lane all along the major corridors, since we are starting up this project as a pilot project once we achieve our target we will try to get the BRT service on other major corridors phase wise.
    Thank you

  12. Dear B Dutta, We do have the proposal to have the BRT lane all along the major corridors, since we are starting up this project as a pilot project once we achieve our target we will try to get the BRT service on other major corridors phase wise.

    Thank you

  13. Dear Yunus you need not shudder!!! As this project is taken up by BDA not BBMP in consultation with all the stake holders..
    I do agree you that we have a very good bus system but not the best when compare to other countries, rather than calling we are the best in the country I would define as next to the best, still it needs to be improved to the next level. Yes we can improve the metro rail which has already being done for phase I and phase II. Coming to strengthening of the existing bus service that’s what we have initiated by taking up BRT service. We are looking for a good integrating facility with the other modes of transportation including metro rail, mono rail etc.
    These are some of the links which can be used as reference.
    http://www.itdp-china.org ,www.chinaBRT.org, http://www.gzbrt.org
    This is a trail run, which is taken up as a pilot project for the specific stretch of the road from Hebbal to Silk board junction where in the road in available and in some places land acquisition is required which will be taken care off.
    It is proposed that the corridor is soon going be signal free, BDA has taken care for the extra lanes at under passes and flyover to accommodate for the BRT projects. I would like to tell you that all the BMTC buses will be allowed to take up the BRT lanes. Since I have mentioned above it is a pilot project which we are running on the ORR once we achieve our target we will try to get the BRT service on other major corridors in phase wise.

    Thank you

  14. DULT comments on Feed back for BRTS

    Subramanya Prasad TV
    This is a trail run, which is taken up as a pilot project for the specific stretch of the road from Hebbal to Silk board junction where in the road in available and in some places land acquisition is required which will be taken care off.
    It is proposed that the corridor is soon going be signal free, BDA has taken care for the extra lanes at under passes and flyover to accommodate for the BRT projects. Based on the ridership, if required BMTC buses will ply on the BRT lane. Since I have mentioned above it is a pilot project which we are running on the ORR once we achieve our target we will try to get the BRT service on other major corridors in phase wise.
    Yes we are constructing physical barriers on the sides to segregate the traffic pattern with strict enforcement with the help of traffic police.
    Thank you.
    Mohammad Mohsin

  15. Dear Mr.Mohsin,
    One elegantly simple, cost-effective and useful way of building ‘BRT’ is to have two/three simple points. Though this is not the usual BRT, this will be easier to build on some of our old roads.

    1. Make sure the road width at junctions is wider than usual carriageway by atleast one lane width.
    2. Bus stops should be located close to junction (I completely understand that road-users may not like the thought, but please read the next point). This will help bus users to change buses easily.
    3. Build bus bays to allow buses to stop witout disrupting the traffic.
    4. The bus bays should extend till the junction/signal.
    5. At the junction/signal, put-in a single lane underpass (like the Cauvery circle magic-box), so that buses dont have to wait at the signal. These boxes are for buses only.

    This will help buses move faster, beat signals. And yes, buses will have right of way in the additional lanes/bus-bay extension.

    This can be implemented along many high density corridors ( to name a few)
    a. RV/JC Road (Jayanagar to Townhall)
    b. KH Road to Residency Road
    c. Richmond Road to KH Road

  16. Trying out BRT in Bengaluru is a much better idea than trying to implement the metro rail. I strongly support you in any effort to provide affordable solutions for transport in Bengaluru. Please share the details of the BRT planned with costs, and contrast it with the plans and costs of existing/other solutions, and pshare this information publicly. After that we can have a public consultation and go for what people want.

  17. The slides on Delhi BRTS posted by Mr.Dutta (earlier comment) were very informative. The striking statistic is average bus speed normally (7-10 kmph) has now gone up on the BRTS scheme to 19-19 kmph. Encouraging!

    Again Delhi has the highest proportion of wide roads and thoroughfares among our cities, so separating out lanes was perhaps easier in Delhi. It remains to be seen in how many roads in Bangalore and other cities this can be done without causing two/four wheeler congestion.

    The wikipedia entry on Delhi BRTS is also highly informative. Encourage you all to go through it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi_Bus_Rapid_Transit_System

  18. Namaskara Sir,

    we are happy to see BMLTA seek public inputs and engage with the public.we are also happy to see the humble bus and its users getting attention. we would however like to request that you seek inputs not just from english using internet users but also from all sections of bangalore including bus-users, bmtc staff etc.

    also we need to figure out the best routing system for buses in Bangalore. if we re-route from the current system to a grid-based system or any other system, would it serve the purpose? we should discuss this along with BRT.

    it would be best to have a series of public discussions on the above.

    Thanks,
    Vinay Sreenivasa

  19. Rather than generic advantages and disadvantages we would like to see what the proposals are with regard to BRTS in Bangalore/India specifically. If I’m not mistaken BRTS is at a slightly further stage in Ahmedabad, and also some form of a bus corridor is now in place in Delhi: how has it worked there? What is happening to it?

    Mainly the question is is there space on Bangalore roads for dedicated bus corridors? The pictures from Bogota (developing nation city) look encouraging but the question remains if Bangalore roads has the bandwidth for this. If only 4 or 5 stretches (Hosur rd etc) are being considered, the project should be focussed right at the beginning to those corridors.

  20. Good Article in Principle, BBMP is going to put it in practice right.. via all other state agencies.. I shudder!!!

    We have a good bus system already in place, metro coming up, roads traffic is so bad, private transport is so heavily used … Can’t we strengthen the metro rail and the current bus system already? Can the Commissioner please put up supplementary links for better understanding of the mechanism and system in the so mentioned countries where it has been successful and the need to avoid the mistakes made by these countries. We should consider this definitely – but I look at the ground reality and wonder whether this is actually a good solution.

  21. It’s a brilliant idea. But do we have roads wide enough for them? Moreover, the Government is promising a signal free corridor soon from Silk Board Junction to Hebbal. When this is the case, would the normal buses ply as fast as a proposed BRTS bus? What is the advantage of BRTS in such cases?

    From the report, it seems like BRTS is practically ruled out from being implemented within the city. Right? We do not have enough space.

    Are we taking enough care and enforce the rule that non BRTS vehicles should not enter BRTS lanes?

Comments are closed.