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The need for BRTS

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Metro RailTrafficPublic Transport

This refers to the article in TOI & the guest column by Muralidhar Rao.

The basic premise on which public transport is based is that if the road seems too narrow with high volumes of traffic, there is a case for public transport. The higher the volume of traffic on a road, the stronger is the case for public transport.

In India, the low–cost /low–quality public buses are now not preferred by the upwardly mobile strata. Rail-based systems (such as Metro /Monorail) are very expensive to build & maintain & will therefore, not have extensive reach for a long time to come. The city cannot make do with widening roads & adding elevated roads continuously. No city has ever been able to “build” its way out of the problem. A new, faster & cost efficient system is required for quality conscious groups, over & above the existing low quality bus network. BRTS fulfills these requirements & is perhaps, the only available alternative worth exploring.

BRT systems with high-quality service features have been developed in several cities such as Bogota (Colombia), Curitiba (Brazil), Guayaquil (Ecuador), Jakarta (Indonesia), Pereira (Colombia), Brisbane (Australia), Ottawa (Canada), and Rouen (France). Approximately 40 cities have already implemented BRT systems, and many more such systems are either in various planning stages or are under construction. Unlike low quality public transport buses in India, the BRT concept includes high-quality infrastructure, efficient operations, effective & transparent business & institutional arrangements, sophisticated technology, and excellence in marketing and customer service. The Bogota system (TransMilleno), one of the most successful BRT experiments, is currently carrying 45,000 passengers each direction in peak hours. This is nearly the same as a well used Metro system in peak hours.

A standard BRTS lane requires about 3.5 mtrs of road width. Thus, a twin lane system with a single lane in each direction & a median requires about 9-10 mtrs (about 33 ft). At bus stops, the width required would be higher to allow an additional lane for overtaking (express buses may also be operated within the network) & for building infrastructure such as bus stations, ticket kiosks, etc. Where road widths are insufficient, BRT–exclusive elevated over or under passes are normally fitted & at signals, BRT is usually given priority & right of way.

There are certain obstacles, though. Private vehicle users are mostly educated & therefore, vocal & demanding. Their numbers are growing with migration to the bigger cities that offer more & more jobs. The authorities have ignored basic transport concepts & alternatives consistently due to pressure from vehicle owners. Thus, almost all decisions by authorities on road infrastructure development have unfortunately been to cater to more private vehicle usage. BRTS is only now being introduced in the country & experience /expertise in operating such a system within the country is unavailable. Road widths in most Indian cities (except Delhi) are not too large. The degree of involvement of the private sector in public transport is negligible, save for operating inter-city bus services & a few intra-city bus services. Most private vehicle users & observers see the BRTS as wastage of road space. They do not realize that such space is well worth utilizing for BRTS since the bus service, when improved, if not perfected will eventually make the city more efficient & cater to a much larger commuting populace, actually quite similar to construction of a flyover or an elevated road.

Hence, a start has to be made & in due time, BRTS has the potential to replace very large numbers of private vehicles. This obviously, is not expected to happen quickly, but over a period. The CTTP-2007 has recommended four viable corridors (appx 60km) within ORR as also along the eastern part of ORR (33km). What is required immediately is for the authorities to pursue the system at the earliest in order to gain experience & learn as the system will be subject to extensions & improvements. Ignoring this mode of public transport will surely worsen traffic conditions as there are no alternatives worth considering.

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murali772's picture

a critique on BRTS

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The following is the full text of the comments under 'guest column' on page 2 of TOI dt 25th March, '08. Muralidhar Rao Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) when operated with high capacity buses gets to be called High Capacity Bus System (HCBS). Curitiba in Brazil supposedly pioneered this model, following the 'success' of which quite a few other cities across the world have adopted it. In India, a team of technocrats from IIT, Delhi have been advocating this model from long, and as a result, the city of New Delhi has just about launched this scheme along one route, with a few more set to follow soon. The Delhi experiment has been receiving a lot of flak in the local media, which the supporters of the model would like to label as the propaganda by METRO/ MONO - rail, and automobile lobbies. Now, whether BRTS or HCBS, both call for dedicated lanes in the centre of a given road. Allowing for 20 + 20 ft for the dedicated lanes on either side of a 10 ft wide median to accommodate the bus stops, it will leave just 50 ft for everything else on a 100 ft (between the outer edges of the drains on either side) road, like the one in Indiranagar. Thus, after providing for 20 ft lanes on either side for the general traffic, which by themselves are going to be terribly crammed, you will be left with a balance of 5 ft on either edges for drains, foot-paths, utility lines, etc. Plainly, that will mean the end of the majestic trees along this road. The question further is how many roads do you have of this width in Bangalore? Now, going by plain logic, supposing in any given route direction, BMTC is operating at a frequency of a bus every 3 minutes, and the buses are moving at an average speed of 10 kmph, there will be a gap of 500 M between any two buses. As such, if a lane is dedicated exclusively for the buses, it will then push out 100 other vehicles from this 500 M stretch (making for 200 vehicles per km), assuming an average vehicle length of 5M, and near bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions. This is total under utilisation of high demand city road space. If the cost of this much of land is factored into the project costing, particularly in cities like Bangalore, then the differential between the METRO-rail and the HCBS will narrow considerably. The above apart, the access structures to the bus stops on the central median, can be fairly complicated and costly, particularly if you are following the Curitiba model. Also, while getting the traffic to move smoothly along straight road stretches is generally not a serious issue, the challenge is in getting them to negotiate the junctions smoothly. In this, the BRTS, for all its engineering, fails to provide satisfactory solutions. There is a telling picture of a stretch of road in some city, which has adopted the model, showing an empty stretch of over 100M behind a bus on a dedicated lane, even as the adjoining lane (in the same direction) is totally cluttered with vehicles of all kinds, particularly two-wheelers. Very clearly, even with having introduced the HCBS on dedicated lanes, it has not caused citizens to switch from the use of their two-wheelers, leading to the problems aggravating even further. Thus, while dedicated lanes may be OK on stretches leading to and from bus depots, or on stretches where the frequency is higher than say a bus every 15 seconds, on regular roads, they are totally ill-advised. Rather than dedicated lanes, total ban on private vehicles (meaning - vehicles other than buses, taxi's and auto's) on select stretches, during peak hours, would any day be preferable. All these apart, BRT schemes are invariably envisaged as operations by Companies promoted by Municipalities, with 'artificial monopoly' (as different from natural monopoly situations, like in the case of power distribution) franchises being tendered out for different districts/ routes. In the case of the Indore city set up, for example (a presentation on which was made in Bangalore recently), the Company takes all decisions with regard to routes, fares, types of buses, schedules, etc, with hardly any discretion being left to the service providers. While the revenue generation out of cash sales comes straight into the hands of the individual operators, out of the earnings from sale of monthly passes (which are managed by the Company), a fixed sum of the order of Rs 22,000/- per bus per month is made over to them. If the targets are not achieved, which could very well happen considering the various kinds of forces at play, it will eventually lead to a subsidy regime. Also, with far too many controls and restrictions still in place, I expect, TATA's, TVS's would still want to keep a safe distance, leaving the field to the local mafia chieftains to play ball with the Company authorities, more or less like the PWD operations in most states. All in all, BRTS is not exactly a satisfactory model. In the case of Bangalore, the Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA) has been instituted. There is a proposal to strengthen and broad-base it. Once that is in done, what Bangalore needs to do is to facilitate the entry of players of the stature of TATA's and TVS's to provide the services in open competition with the BMTC, on a level playing field, with the minimum of restrictions. Public bus transport services today is too vital an infrastructure area not to have the competent services of such players. For more, read http://traffic-transport-...
Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

BRTS for Bangalore

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Mr Murali - Greetings & noted various articles in your blogspot about Traffic & Transport Issues – thanks.

As you mentioned, I believe that public transport is too vital for the government alone to operate single-handedly. BMTC is just about recovering its operating costs now after the turn-around a few years ago. Whilst there is no doubt that our public transport systems could do better with competition, the question really is which large, professional body would come forward & volunteer to operate public transport services, given the dismal state of affairs as it is today ? If a business like approach is to be adapted for tendering these services, they would have to assure returns & profitability, failing which subsidies will have to be doled out with the loss of revenues.

What we require in Bangalore & in all our cities in general, is a car-competitive public transport that delivers efficiently based on some calculus that results in lower price, shorter travel time, comfort & convenience. BRT systems are designed to compete with cars & their characteristics & features set them apart from conventional bus services. Introducing such a system will also undo the long-held biases in favor of private vehicles & make them efficient & better alternatives than individual motor vehicles.

A large no. of vehicles (appx 200 per km, as estimated) would be displaced if BRTS lanes were built within available road space, & wide roads seem scarce in the city with the excessive no. of vehicles. The CTTP-2007 report has hence recommended BRTS only on certain roads to start with (ORR, CRR, IRR, etc.) where widths are sufficient. The real point is that if a certain no. of vehicles are displaced, the buses that are being run on these lanes will in due time be able to carry several times more passengers than all these displaced cars put together. Also, emission from a fewer no. of hi-tech buses would be far lesser than from the several hundred cars that they displace. The BRTS concept has gained favor amongst policy planners overseas based on these advantages. Average speeds up to 30 kms have been achieved.

In India, at Ahmedabad, BRTS is being planned to operate in exclusive lanes where road widths allow for this & in mixed traffic lanes where roads are narrow. Also, in some cases, to bypass signals, the exclusive bus-ways terminate about 50 mtrs before the junction & the buses turn into a suitable secondary road. Direct, point to point services are arranged to minimize transfers & to attract more commuters & for the project to be financially viable. The infrastructure costs are being met by the municipality whilst PPP models are being pursued for operating the fleet.

A similar model can be suitable for Bangalore & when the concept is better understood & gains acceptance, controlling traffic volumes can become easier. I beleive that BRT, together with the Metro /Monorail & introduction of traffic restraining tools (such as high parking fees, congestion /cordon pricing, etc) can successfully divert private vehicle users to public modes of commuting.

tsubba's picture

brts

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some very basic questions folks. working on an angle of this problem. will get back. wanted to reserve a place holder. looking at the stats it does appear to me that bmtc is chasing the wrong market. it is concentrating on long haul, which is beyond its capability simply because it is a bus based system. let us say bangalore comes up with the best possible, most efficient bus based mass transit system possible, the question is, will that be sufficient for bangalore? aside, what do you folks think about the latest headline, nay punchline, from ToI's unlock campaign? greater citizen participation? is that the worst cliche or what? are they trying to wash their hands off? and who exactly is this citizen that they are interested in engaging? the real people with real knowledge and ideas or the types who lobbied for that utterly meaningless thing called BETL? in this grand scheme of things does a tireless worker of an KI, a CAF or a swabhimana or that nameless neighborhood organization or that expert professor at the institute or even the rvce even find a place or is it just the fun and the fashionable that are worth a hearing? folks at KI got an IISc prof to analyse the effects of CDp on Bellandur, guess what all these revolutionaries did?
tsubba's picture

brts

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murali772's picture

graphs not clear

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Hi Tarle (if I may call you that!) The above graphs look interesting. But, they are not clear. And, do they pertain to any specific period? Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

2nd lecture by Dr Badami

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Yesterday, I had attended second and final lecture by Professor Madhav Badami on "The Public Transit Challenge: Reconciling Coverage, Viability and Affordability" at The Centre for Public Policy, IIMB. This was followed by a film show on BRTS. During the interaction, Dr Badami admitted that BRTS is feasible only along wide corridors, or corridors that can be widened, or when incorporated at the planning stage itself in new layouts. And, his suggestion was to have regular/ shuttle bus services operating in areas, with not so wide roads, feeding into these. Can't disagree with that, though, I would still go by my recommendation as at http://bangalore.praja.in... Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
tsubba's picture

prof. badami

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thanks for the update. for archival purposes and completeness i will post this comment under the original prof. badami thread. (that also reminds me need to get to his other article) ps: i am working on better graphs.
Naveen's picture

BBMP Budget - Encourages further Motorisation

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As reported by TOI today, BBMP has released it's budget for the coming year with a focus on improving & widening roads. The items also include some elevated roads within the city & 4 roads over storm drains - the earlier 'club pyramid' project that has been gathering dust for years !

 Whilst good roads are welcome, the BBMP has not pushed for increased need for public transport. A part of these elevated roads & roads over storm drains could be made exclusive for BRT bus services as they seem to be positioned well to provide good connectivity between points within the city.

 Unless public transport is made the primary objective, this runaway growth in vehicle population is never going to halt, let alone reduce.

 Prof.Badami's article in The Hindu emphasised this substantially, but our policy makers are digging themselves  deeper into the hole thay already have buried themselves in !

 TS - I think the TOI campaign 'Unlock Bangalore' is just another publicity campaign - & should have been confined to the celebrity section (page-3 kind of stuff) ! What do you feel ?

Vasanth's picture

BMTC - Add Grid Model to the existing model - Propose routes

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BMTC is based on a hub-spoke model with 3 hubs - Majestic, Market and Shivajinagar. This is the age old design which works fine if we have CBD with all offices in central district. It was working fine in earlier days since Government offices were located mostly in and around Majestic area. Now, offices are spread across all over Bangalore. We need a Grid based network. The existing network should not be touched since lot of people are addicted to it and changing it will distract people. Grid based model should be added to the existing hub-spoke model. BMTC recently started the Grid model buses called MBS, but the frequency was very poor with a bus once in 3 hours or so and was not routed properly based on traffic movement.

 

Common ticketing based on transfers is one more necessity to ease the change of Buses which is very much necessary to reduce the fares and distract Bus Service.

 

We have to identify the main areas of people movement and the patterns in which they move. As per the IT employees traffic, whose cars are mainly causing chaos, it is Bannerghatta Road, Kormangala, Kormangala Inner Ring Road near Dell campus, Domlur to HAL Airport, Whitefield ITPL and last but not the least Electronic City. It is this big network which is causing problems. If we would have had a single CBD concept what blrsri mentioned in his recent post, private vehicles could have been restricted and Public Transport could have been enforced. Providing connectivity to all these areas from all the residential areas is a challenge. One simple remedy is to enforce the companies to provide common transport to its employees from various parts of the city and restrict cars in its campus. This will also ease their maintenance of parking areas which is a challenge for the companies too. The cost of providing transportation to MNCs is peanuts considering their revenue. Already they are cutting cost by outsourcing to India. Quality of buses used by these companies should attract the Car bound Techie by giving more comfort level such as A/C buses with plush seats and reduce the travel time instead of roaming around many areas to cut 2/3 bus routes into 1 bus. Companies in the nearby localities can pool the buses for all its employees which will increase the coverage.

 

Before the introduction of Metro and Mono, we can have buses to run on the proposed route with a definite frequency of 3-5 minutes. With this, we get a feel about the people movement on this route and how it works out with other modes of commute.

 

TS, you can add a core route on the proposed Metro/Mono routes to have Buses (This will be until Metro/Mono substitutes). We wll go as per the RITES survey and add more routes. Let us go constructively by giving suggestions, proposing routes, changing bus stand locations, rather than criticizing what BMTC does without our own Solutions or Suggestions for the existing problems. Problems will stay where it is if we just keep criticizing.

 

It is easier to say at the surface level and difficult at ground level to suggest routes, mode of frequency etc..

asj's picture

BRT failures - an analysis

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Most are aware of my thoughts on the matter. I have now managed to put them together as one article though reference is still made to several case examples I have compiled over time (reason being rather than just complaining I find offering alternatives just as improtant).

Please read - http://better.pune.googlepages.com/WhyBRTinIndiadoesnotexciteme.htm 

Thanks

ASJ 

Vasanth's picture

BRT on one way roads should be easy compared to 2 way roads

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