BRTS, Bus Priority or similar concepts for Bangalore

This is a book page to hold together discussions on BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System), BPS (Bus Priority System) or similar bus based prioritized transporation systems. Please outline any widely read, discussed, or citizen-conducted research type posts under this page.

BRTS for Bangalore: feasibility, suggestions

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Bus

I was reading through some of the BRTS all over the world both failed and success stories. I wanted to check how feasible to implement this in Bangalore and is there any other alternative to improve the existing system. The major reasons of BRTS failure are:

  1. Underutilized bus lanes: This was one of the Major reasons for Delhi BRTS to fail as the frustrated vehicle owners choose to use this lane.
  2. Difficulty in accessing bus platforms: Commuters faced horrible time to get the bus stops amid heavy traffic in some of the bus junctions.
  3. Cost of the Project: One of the reasons why many corporations hesitate to invest in this.
  4. Location of the Bus Stops: Integrating the Bus Stops with the Metro line was not given priority (Delhi).

Also, we need to always keep in mind that BRTS getting success in one city may fail in another unless the exact requirement of the city is addressed. Every city has different requirements and challenges.

Now, let us see on what our city has or expects out of a BRTS system

  1. We have a huge IT crowd which is dependent on the Bus Transport and majority of the IT hub are connected by Ring Road or nearer to it.(like Manyata Embassy Tech Park, Marthahalli, Bannerghatta Road, Electronic City, Whitefield, etc.,)
  2. Narrow roads and hurdles in widening the road because of
    1. Cost
    2. Environmental Problems
  3. Positive mentality of the people to use Public Transport: Evident in people participation for Bus Day, Car Pool initiatives etc.,

So we need a bus transport system which addresses the above requirement and also overcomes the difficulties faced by the failed BRTS system. Here are my suggestions to improve the existing Bus Transport system which can eventually lead to a successful BRTS for Bangalore.

1.       Integrate Bus Stops with Skywalks/Subways:

This needs to be done on a place where we have a big road and good passenger traffic. Example would be near Software Park like Manyata Embassy Tech Park, Bellandur in Marathahalli. I have drawn a picture which gives an idea.

 

These kinds of Bus Stops should be planned in a place where we have wide roads, like our Ring road, and with a dedicated bus lane for 250mts (debatable) on either side. This would avoid BMTC drivers shifting lanes near the bus stops and inherently make the right most lane of the Road only for BMTC. This would also inhibit a lane concept for the vehicle users which our traffic police are trying very hard to address.

2.       Connecting each Bus Stop with a Camera and display board (ITS):

Any violation of Bus Lane by private vehicle users will be caught on camera and can be penalized. This will also address the security issues in the Bus Stops.

3.       Using Bus Cluttering to an advantage:

One of the main problems is bus cluttering. In the heart line of the city there will be buses plying for different routes on the main heart line. So at a time there might be four- five buses in the same bus stop. The 250mtrs bus lane gives us an option to have three to four bus bays where each bus bay is allocated based on the entry of the buses.

4.       Cost:

Since this involves only Constructing Bus Stops and integrating with existing/ planned Skywalks/Subways the initial implementation cost will be minimal.

5.       Need buses with doors on the Right Side:

The only disadvantage I see the need for buses with doors on Right Side for passenger entry. Well if you consider BMTC’s plan to introduce more buses it should not that much a difficulty to address this.

I went through the blog on Bus Priority System but could not get more details on Priority signals. Praja is doing a wonderful job of giving a platform for every citizen to share their idea, vision and concern for Bangalore.I would like to see more discussion on these topics which helps people of Bangalore.

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Dedicated Bus / High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) Lane around CBD

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Bus

We see huge number of Buses passing through some of the CBD Area in Bangalore few of the roads. Despite of that, there is no dedicated lanes for BMTC buses and other High Occupancy Vehicles such as office shuttles. This slows down Public Transport Buses and also leads to accidents such as Buses hitting 2 wheeler leading to fatalities. Many of the roads are just 2 lanes on either sides such as Airport Road which does not allow for dedicated bus lanes. But the same road becomes one way and all 4 lanes are available in a single direction. But this wide road is not properly utilized, single occupancy cars occupy most of the space slowing down High Occupancy Vehicles such as BMTC buses which cannot negotiate traffic like cars due to its size.

This is a Proposal to start dedicated bus lanes on the left side of the road on wide one way roads. Earlier, there were discussions on BPS or Bus Priority System on Praja which has not materialized so far.  Following are the roads:

1. Majestic to Corporation Circle via Anand Rao Circle Flyover and KR Circle.

2. Part of Kasturbha Road and Mallya Hospital Road.

3. Residency Road from Richmod Circle  to  ASC Public School via Garuda Mall & Hosmat Hospital

4. ASC Public School to Richmond Circle on Old Airport Road.

5. Woodlands Hotel on Fort Road till Majestic via Hudson/Corporation Circle.

6. Mantri Mall to 18th Cross on Sampige Road.

7. 18th Cross till KC General Hospital on Margosa Road.

This is not a high speed BRT like Janmarg with level boarding. Existing BMTC buses and company shuttles with a special permission from BTP can start using this. 

Attached is the map..

Javascript is required to view this map.

 

 

Dedicated bus lanes - a presentation for BBMP

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TrafficPublic Transport

I made a presentation yesterday to Mr.Subramanya (BBMP Commisioner) at his office about the single bus lane idea. He was quite interested and said he would discuss with his committee and revert. He also agreed very well that the solution was not to build or widen more roads or flyovers. He also mentioned some problems that are being faced with the underpasses construction on Bellary road - the actual costs were much higher than anticipated because numerous problems had cropped up - conduits for sewerage, water, telephone, electricity, etc that were marked incorrectly on admittedly very old drawings that now need to be re-aligned !

[Here is the presentation, prepared with a lot of help from folks and material here on Praja]

The real issue with traffic is that these umpteen measures when implemented actually worsen things - I prefer to call flyover construction or privatization of bus services as short term or stop-gap. The numerous flyovers - have they improved things? If they have for traffic movement, then they have also induced more traffic & bred a new cult of 'trigger' happy drivers, honking away & breaking rules with impunity in their care-a-dam attitudes, increasing alarmingly in nos. as the days pass.

Will privatization of bus services solve all problems? Though it might seem more efficient initially, in the long run, it will breed a new cult of similar drivers with even larger machines since profits will be linked to quicker services, and quicker services will be dependent on the traffic situation in a vicious cycle.

What is the solution? Everybody talks of improvement in public transport, but where & how will it 'localize' traffic to manageable levels, given that their quality & efficiency is dependent on traffic conditions? Today, traffic is a nightmare as there is no 'local' traffic - vehicles ply from one end of the city to the other end, all across & use all available roads.

As I have advocated all along, I very strongly believe that unless bus (be it private or public) is prioritized with lanes - and buses combine with the Metro to offer a better option to get from one end to the other end of Bangalore in quicker time, in more comfort, and at lesser cost - nothing will change.

Only if initiatives that address this are unleashed (& addressing this is not easy) will things come to order as they would sound the death knell for the 2-wheeler, the auto, the SUVs, the mini-buses, the cars. Till then, let's buckle up & drive, & hope we arrive safe !

Is BRTS right for all cities?

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Public Transport

I am aware that much needs doing with regards enhancing public transport in all Indian cities. What I am not convinced is whether all cities should have a BRT. Could there be simpler options that are more cost-effective? My answer to this question is a 'yes'.

Again because I have studied and also writtent to Pune authorities, I make an example of Pune. The reason for sharing this is to help avert similar mistakes elsewhere.

In Pune, almost a dozen roads are identified as BRT routes (most need expenses on road widening first). Oddly the Average length of BRTS routes in Pune = 2.8 miles or 4.5 km. It does not need a genius to understand that BRTS is about speed and reliability. If one travels 8km at 30 km per hour it takes 16 minutes or 8 minutes at 60km / hour. Simple maths suggests that for short distances speed never matters. So for 4.5 km by buses travelling at 60 and not 30 we will save 4 minutes only.

The BRT routes in Pune are dis-continuous and spread out. Thus to get to a BRT route (or travel in between two BRT routes) one needs using good old broken down PMT or travel in ricks.

Strangely in Pune, over 50% of commute on 9 out of these dozen odd identified BRT routes is already on PMT buses!! Further, BRT models vary and we seem to opt for buses plying in the centre of the roads rather than periphery. This is costly in many ways. It means needing investment in overhead walkways or subways. Unless you re-design the south American model, you will have buses with doors to their right (useless on all other routes). These two points suggest that money should first be spent on reforming PMT and not BRT. JNNURM money is given with precondition of reforms and can be used for any purpose and not just BRT.

A BRT without a good basic bus service netwrok covering non-BRT routes is useless. This makes Mumbai a city which is ready for BRT thanks to its superb BEST service. Yet, Pune, a stones throw away have refused to study the BEST model. Equally Mumbai is best suited to gain from using cost-effective London model where bus lanes are in use on each road with an ability to have them. This is in contrast to 100m wide roads which are a must for BRT.

I procured and sent a copy of the CD titled - Bus Priority: The way Ahead, Published by the Department of Transport, UK to Pune Municipal Commissioner. A summary of the contents of the CD on Bus Priority is available as a download from http://better.pune.googlepages.com/Bus_Priority_Pune.pdf

Readers will see that there are many models experimented and in use in UK (and indeed worldwide). Pune made the mistake of commissioning feasability study of BRT in Pune. The question asked should have been - which model will best serve Pune?

Trust this helps those interested in different models of public transport. Other views and opinions are welcome.

Money saved is money earned. Though our economy is growing, this vast country with a billion people have many other needs - education / healthcare to name a few. Grand projects (like may ill planned flyovers) should be welcomed with great caution as money will be needed in areas other than infrastructure.

ASJ

Lobby for BRT in Bangalore - focus Big10, Circle routes?

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BusPublic Transport

First things first. If you don't like BRT, think it absolutely can't be done, please keep out, and discuss on other posts. This thread is for those who think that BRT in some sort or form (dedicated corridors, only at some places, or priority signals, or bus only magic boxes, or whatever) is needed for Bangalore, and can possibly be done. We have discussed the subject a lot over past 2 years and have defined BRT as whatever means and ways to prioratize or streamline bus movement over private vehicles.

Next, there are ot of theories possible on what routes. There would be 20 good ones to debate between. But since one theory is already under implementation via Big10 and Circles, it is better to fit BRT proposals what is already in the works at BMTC. See images (click to see original pics on BTIS website)

Some Big10 corridors already have Metro or Elevated roads on them, may be starting with the ones that don't have any mass transit plans right on them right now may work better. Old Airport Road, Bellary Road (leave HSRL), Hennur Road, look like candidates.

Another map from BTIS website showing Big10 and Circle routes together. (click to enlarge)