Bus Rapid Transport for Bangalore, today or tomorrow?

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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.

About Mohammad Mohsin 2 Articles
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  1. Welcome thought. But one request. BRTS has been functioning quiet well in Ahmedabad, but we should not commit the mistake what they have committed. There are bus stations on road with the doors opening on the side behind the driver. This would inconvenience the passenger. I am sure, the top brass would have looked into it still my 2p.

  2. Dear Sri Sheshagiri Rao,

    At first, this is to clear that BMTC is a Service providing agency for Public Transport in Bangalore and BMLTA is an authority which is a co-ordinating body headed by Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka. The issues raised over increase in number of buses, decrease in passengers carried etc may be suitably addressed to officials of BMTC.

    In this regard, it is felt that you can contact Mr Vishwanath, Chief Traffic Manager (Operations), BMTC via e-mail: ctmobmtc@gmail.com.

    However, it may be found that, the figures referred earlier needs to be rechecked. ie. CTTP report – 2007 for Bangalore indicates that the passengers carried per day during 97-98 was 24.5 Lakhs as against 2005-06 is 34.78 lakhsand at present it is 42 lakhs passenger every day.. this shows the increase in passengers carried by BMTC. However, the percentage share of travel by Public Transport has decreased during the time due to various factors like boom in IT & ITES sector, increased per capita income, increased social standards, vehicle ownership rate, etc. However, BMTC is striving to provide better service by providing access and increasing frequency to all corners of the city.

    It may be also noted that, Bus service alone cannot succeed for increasing carrying capacity for public transport. In this regard, the ongoing Metroand BRT( at Drawing board) which is expected to be operational shortly in the coming years would definitely increase the share of public transport.
    The BMLTA is trying to push for pedestrian facilites, Non motorised transport promotion and Public transport encouragement etc for All Bengulurians. Thanks alot for your concern.

  3. Dear Dr Moorchung Seshagiri Rao,

    This in response to your comment posted on 26-Feb, 05 PM, where you say: “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.”

    This is incorrect. Citizen Matters published all comments received on this article. We do not moderate comments by default. If we find comments using abusive or improper language or not to the point at all (irrelevant) we remove them. Please see our comments police here:

    If you or anyone you know has posted a comment on this article (that you wanted Mr Mohsin to respond to), and it did not go through, it may be a system glitch or network error. Kindly repost it.

    -Subramaniam Vincent, Editor.

  4. Sir,

    I read about the plan in today’s newspapers. It looks like it is shaping up nicely. Please consider using electric buses if the system is a success. Have a look at this article – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolleybus.It is used extensively in San Francisco. This should be a great eco friendly initiative. It should also be logistically convenient for you to implement atleast on ring roads where the roads are wide and do not have many turnings. Please consider it.

  5. Dear Dr Moorchung Seshagiri Rao

    The agency mentioned in Citizen Matters Vol 1 Issue 15 was the BMTC and not the BMLTA. BMTC is the public sector bus company.

    The information you are referring to is available in a BMTC booklet, a hard copy of which is available with Citizen Matters. Please do contact us if you would like a copy of this.

  6. Dated the 26th February 2010

    It was quite interesting to read in the “Citizen Matters” Vol 1 Issue 15 that the BMTLA have been surpassing themselves every year from 97-98 till 08-09. The number of buses has gone up from 2098 to 5542 and those buses traveled so many more thousands of Kilometers employing so many more staff, carried so many more Passengers and earned so many more Lakhs of Rupees.

    Simple division however, reveals the untold truth. The number of passengers carried by a bus in a day dropped from 1167.8 in 97-98 to 726.6 in 08-09. The average occupancy in a bus dropped from 48.9 to 28.9. Simply speaking, the BMTLA is being patronised less and less by year after year.

    A lot of the other critical vital Statistics has been held back and certain assumptions have therefore to be made for further analysis.

    New Buses can be bought if you have money. Staff can be recruited for money. You can not create more land with any amount of money. Assuming that a Bangalore Bus occupies about 30 sq m of Road space and that an average passenger travels 8km per trip, the output in terms of Passenger Kms per sq m of land occupation has been falling steadily from 311km in 97-98 to 193km in 08-09. Figures for Autorickshaws are not published, but will surely be more than 200km.

    What right have the BMTLA got to exclude other forms of Public transport from the scarce land when their utilization of available land is dropping year after year? The BMTLA Administration are only busy in image building in the media with Air cushioned buses, Air Conditioned buses, Luminous Dot matrix digital scrolling destination boards and so on. The primary duty of a Public transport is to run full making the fullest use of Land which is a scarce resource. Frills are secondary and tertiary. MSR

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