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Implementing bus priority on narrow roads - proposal submitted to Pune Municipal Corporation

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Please find a significantly more detailed as well as an updated proposal for implementing bus priority on SB Road, Pune a 80 feet wide road not conducive to Bogota style BRTS with median lanes and median bus stops.
You may download a low resolution (1mb) PDF copy or alternatively a high resolution PDF copy can be downloaded from here (6mb).
This document benefits from use of latest pictures kindly forwarded to me last week by Dr Uday Kulkarni. 
This proposal ends with request for considering use of unique and bold but cost-effective contraflow bus lanes which can be used on narrowest of roads (on BMCC, Bhandarkar and Prabhat roads), thereby improving overall coverage, reliability and quality of bus service that PMPML can provide from Aundh/Baner/Pashan to Kothrud, Deccan, FC road, JM road and beyond (Katraj / Hadapsar via current pilot and proposed BRTS routes).



Nitinjhanwar's picture

Dr ASJ -No comments

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After going through this proposal if the PMC still does not try to implement it than they are not serious. For the financial viabilty of the Transport Routes and modes and frequency of buses- PDCOR in Rajasthan has developed a model-I think. You may contact them. Only thing is that if the cycle track and side bus lane can also be segregated by a phycological curb I think it will be healthy for Pedestrians, Cyclists and The Drivers. nJ



murali772's picture

past getting amazed

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Doc - I am past getting amazed at your postings. I only wish our friends in the so many different forums we have in Bangalore - City Connect, CTTP, ABIDe, etc, (apart from our tech savvy AdCP, traffic) get to take a look at them. Also, if Pune can't bother to avail your services, perhaps PRAJA, Bangalore, would like to nominate you for the Mayorship of Bangalore. Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
asj's picture

Cycle lanes

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Hi! What you say about cycle lane can be easily done. In fact one option which I will prefer but I did not detail in the proposal is to go for the widest possible footpaths and create a cycle lane on the footpath (very commonly done in UK).

Until August 07, this road did not even have footpaths, the ones you see are result of my submitting over 100 pictures of young and old having to walk on the road. I made repeated requests for using IRC norms for footpaths to no avail. This road has one of Asia's biggest convention centres, massive shopping malls and major academic Institutes and footpaths should be 2.5 meters. Right now, I am not very enthusiastic of the response to this proposal.

The PMC is more keen on an elevated road and two tunnels. They have not shown the need for these mega projects on paper at all. In Aug 07 when I visited my parents who live along this road, in the 3 weeks I did not witness a single traffic jam (unless waiting at traffic lights is called a jam).

Murali Sir, you have as usual been kind and generous in your appreciation of the proposal but sadly I am doubtful the proposal will even be read in detail. I will keep chipping away at this though and soon try to cover some additional points I have not covered (stuff like rickshaw stands, hawking and provision of limited but paid parking in the viscinity of this major road).


Naveen's picture

IRC details requested, Contra-flows

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Went thro' yr ideas on the links posted. I have two requests. Grateful if you could advise :

1) I need links to IRC guidelines for road designs wrt sidewalk /footpath widths, cycle track designs & pedestrian facilities.

2) I am not certain if contra-flows will be beneficial with BRT. Please elaborate. Do you know of any BRT system that has been implemented & uses flows in opposite directions ? if so, what were the reasons for planning them in this way.
asj's picture

Integration of different systems is easy

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Hi! I had posted summary of IRC norms for pedestrian facilities here

The above does not look at cycle lanes (it was published 20 years ago when other than the 4 metro cities, most small cities and towns had roads largely used by cycles).

Contra-flow is a fancy name, but essentially in its simplest form as I suggest, one side of a conventional two lane road (1 + 1) is becomes a bus lane (non-segregated) while other side for mixed vehicles.

The word 'contra' only suggests that buses run in the direction opposite to the mixed traffic on other side of the road.

South Mumbai has this on a section of Giraum Road and its been in place for 30 years or so (and it workd well, the bus direction is towards the CBD).

BRTS buses can move out of BRTS routes and run on non-BRT routes (already happening in Delhi, Pune). BRT routes can be median and peripheral and indeed both have been used in same city as needed. I have seen median (but non segregated) bus lanes in London as well.

Anything is possible provided the political and administrative will to make it work is there. Right now the will is there only when it comes to making flyovers, elevated roads, subways, underpasses, overpasses, skywalks, sea links, road over river and god knows what else.


Naveen's picture

How is Integration Easy ?

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Thanks yr information, but it's still not clear to me.

Could it be that in Girgaum, it may have started sometime in the past, due to need for a particular bus route to go in the opposite direction to traffic flow, & since it did not obstruct the traffic flows, it remained there ?

Other than facilitating routing of buses in the most convenient manner, I dont see any benefits.
How does integration become easy with contra flow ?

The IRC publications that you had referred to - are they available online ? If so, grateful if you could advise the link. We require it for a possible PIL.
asj's picture

Its about bus priority

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Naveen it is about bus priority, so yes, it will cause inconvinience to others by having to take a detour.

The buses run at the periphery (well if its a 1+1 lane road, it will be so).  The bus lane is not segregated either, so mixed vehicles running in opposite direction can turn in to any side lanes on the side of the bus lane when a bus is not approaching.

The methods I suggest are for overcoming the mindset that we need exclusive ROW and Bogota style BRTS as the only way to improving bus services. That may happen on handful of roads wide enough but no where else. Thus to prioritise buses in real sense and to maximise coverage of bus priority and improve reliability, speed and punctuality of buses, these simple methods workk wonders (as they have in London).

In fact if you look at BRTS maps (CAD drawings) for Pune, there is actually no real ROW given the number of junctions the buses have to pass - all you have is wide roads and median bus lanes and bus stops and not having to think about conflict with side lanes and indiscriminate parking on periphery.

But not thinking about side lanes is unhelpful, peripheral lanes forces people to think of reducing conflict with side lanes (as I have shown in my proposal) as well as forces people to come up with limiting / restricting or relocating parking elsewhere - both very good TDM measures.

Integration is never a hassle as the different approaches are never on same road. So a bus using a median bus lane in Bogota style BRTS can leave the BRTS route at a signalised junction to join any other road which may have peripheral bus lanes or contraflow lanes or mixed traffic on roads without bus lanes.

IRC - not available online, I had to buy my copy and did not include all their details and diagrams as it would not be fair on their copyrights - hence I didi a summary.



Naveen's picture

ASJ - Noted, Will Revert

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Thanks ASJ - I will revert later about BRT issues.
Also, noted about IRC publications - we will have to buy required copy/s - SB, pls take note.
srkulhalli's picture

Have IRC docs

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Naveen, Have ordered most of the relevant IRC docs - should be in here tommorow.



asj's picture

Bus Priority Resource

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Naveen, this link should help

But you can download the entire Bus Priority Resource Guide from

This page has a good graphic explaining the with flow and contra flow systems

One interesting stat - only 5% of Transport for London managed roads are 'red routes or bus lanes'. But they carry 35% of the 6.5 million people. The speed of travel and reliability has improved and it is not surprising that more such schemes are in offing.



asj's picture

Image of Contra-flow bus lane in London

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Here is a image I found -

See how narrow this road is. But one side is now exclusive for buses. Physical grade separation is not used (other than the pedestrian refuge). Separation is done by way of claer signage and marking on roads.

There are several smalll roads of above width which also have been part pedestrianised and converted in to bus only roads.

It costs nothing in comparison to Bogota style BRTS, in fact median bus lanes and bus stops will be impossible on such roads. But it has not stopped the British  from being creative and doing some out-of-obx thinking.

And imagine how wide the bus priority network can be spread across the city.


Naveen's picture

BRT Issues

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ASJ - Many thanks for those links.

The contra-flow idea seems only to facilitate bus routings in the easiset /fastest /shortest way. At some places, if the bus goes in the opposite direction of mixed flow, it might save distance & time, & hence, this may be the reason why it is being used - there does not appear to be any other benefit. Mixed vehicles can turn to any side across a painted bus-lane even if it is not contra-flow (when there are no buses).

Exclusive ROWs may not be possible in many of the narrow roads of London, Rome, Antwerp, Istanbul & similar old cities but there are a whole lot of cities with exclusive lanes, including Paris, Toulouse & Amsterdam in Europe & several in USA, China & Australia.

In Berlin, Munich & other German cities, buses get priority merely by signal indicators & there are no special bus markings or lanes on roads, none whatsoever, other than at bus stops. Even in Vienna, bus markings were unseen. This is because traffic is far more disciplined there, perhaps even more than London, where bus signage is necessary. Compared to Europe & USA, the levels of discipline are far lower in Asia, though Japan is an exception.

India perhaps, stands at the bottom at present, with heavy urban congestion & no proper transport system/s in our large cities. Though exclusive /physically segregated lanes may not be needed in London, & merely marking bus lanes would do to ensure buses move faster, it does not neccessarily mean that such will work any place, at any time - it will depend on how much traffic there is, how disciplined or indisciplined the traffic is, how wide the road is, etc. & only from these can we deduce how large the problem of intrusion would be.

We have already debated this before. At present, with excessive traffic & very poor road discipline, narrow widths, etc. intrusion by mixed traffic onto bus lanes & obstruction of passage will be a major problem, if lanes are merely painted.

Abt Pune BRT - are there not signal sensors being fitted for buses to go through signalized intersections ? If this is not the case & buses have to wait through the signal phases, I think the BRT experiment may fail. There is no real priority with only lanes segregated for buses & jazzy looking bus stops in the middle, whilst neglecting priority at signals - this is actually the main thing, given traffic conditions in present-day India.

I agree with your theory generally about peripheral lanes being better, but if a road already has many intersections with cross roads or gates for offices /commercial buildings, this will not be possible, & will be opposed by all effected. How can entries be arranged for them ? Peripheral lanes (segregated) are only possible when there is a service road adjacent to the main carriageways.

I think you should take a look at the drawings for Ahmadabad BRT - the best effort in India so far. They are building elevated bus roads, etc. Thus, buses will be using a lot of infrastructure exclusively being built for them, though there are certain sections where they operate in mixed conditions.

Also, Indore's BRT has been a success - made handsome profits last year.

asj's picture

Dumb struck

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The contra-flow idea seems only to facilitate bus routings in the easiset /fastest /shortest way. At some places, if the bus goes in the opposite direction of mixed flow, it might save distance & time, & hence, this may be the reason why it is being used - there does not appear to be any other benefit. 

I am dumb struck at what you say and the way you put it. What more do you want from narrow roads that also afflict our cities and not just the ones you mention.

This dream of exclusive ROW for buses is rather utopian.

Just because we can't follow basic driving rules we are coming up with these strange models of elevated bus routes!!!

The will, political and administrative that prevails when it comes to spending thousands of crores on these grandiose projects - what happens to that political and administrative will when it comes to law enforcement? Why is does it not prevail when it comes to reforming our licensing process and driver training standards?

Lets not be fooled by disciplince on Western roads, they are equal mortals as us in India. The reason why no one dares go on bus lanes is not because the Westerner is more ethical and moral being - they simply fear imprisonment, huge fines and loss of their permit to drive.

Just crossing from Pune to Mumbai causes a shift in driver discipline, simply because Mumbai (especially south Mumbai) enforces law better.

Its an illusion to think that segregated bus lanes help enforce law - look at all the images from Delhi and the plethora of police / wardens employed. And hence Ahembdabad has gone a step worse - elevated bus roads.

The other reason for this nonsense of elevated bus roads is that there is no political and administrative willingness to actually discourage use of personal vehicles. Delhi and Pune - they took a couple of lanes on roads wide enought to generally allow road space for personal vehicles largely untouched.

In short, no one dares talk of TDM, no one dares talk of road pricing schemes.

Finally, I think I have shown repeatedly on how intersections on arterial roads can be reduced. In fact in this very proposal I have removed half a dozen or so intersections. Lets get real, living in a city comes with having to deal with intersections.

Pune BRT - its become a joke, other than providing a bus way, nothing else is in place (right now there seems no hope of any change from what I gather from my sources).




idontspam's picture

There is no ONE way

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While Tram/BRT may have its advantages it cannot be implemented throughout the city. You may be able to have a Tram/BRT corridor as a connector on wide arterial corridors but buses on the rest of the city it has to use some of the best practices ASJ has mentioned.

We really need to get away from the idea that there should be only ONE way or mode of travel in a city. And also from the view that the future of transport has to FIT into current chaos.
Naveen's picture

BRTS - Depends On Conditions

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I had thought that contra-flow would have some benefits since it has been mentioned & described in detail in yr .pdf document, but after all these exchanges, I deduced that it helps with routing of buses, all else would be same as with same-flow lanes.

Mumbai's road discipline is confined to certain pockets only - south mumbai, as mentioned by you, but here, the level of enforcement (ie the no. of cops deployed to monitor) is far higher than in other parts of the city, also autorickshaws are banned. This is probably because the state assembly, many of the largest business houses, etc. are located here. In andheri east & many other places, discipline is pathetic - signal jumping, cutting across from left & turning right, etc. all take place & the chaos is the same as in any other city. Also, commuters on the local trains behave very badly & shove people around, even when there is enough place, due to force of habit, I guess.

The way the leaders see it - the country has far higher priorities. Poverty is over 40%, & some of these poor, in their attempt to make ends meet, become drivers, to start with. The mechanisms for testing & licensing are still rudimentary & expecting them to reach levels where people have far higher incomes & negligible poverty is utopian. It will improve, but it will take time.

You may have read previously on many threads - I have also been advocating a shift away from undercharging for road use & also strictly enforcing traffic restraining measures. I had also discussed this with the commisioner for BBMP. Partly as a result of this, he has made a presentation about enforcing a differentially priced parking policy in the city, but only after the Metro is made operational. Likewise, in our discussions with BMTC chief, he mentioned about groups that had been demanding free, if not very, very cheap bus tickets (Rs.1/- or lower). So, problems are aplenty. A parking policy & TDM cannot strictly be enforced at present as people do not have any other dependable & convenient transport.

It is vital to have a good, dependable transport system as a backbone & on which the city can "lean" on. Once such is in place, parking restrictions & TDM can be followed. Since Pune & Ahmadabad are banking heavily on bus, they would of course try to look for exclusive bus lanes since there is a sense of desperation to "move" out from the stalemate of more & more vehicle additions each day, & which they really do not wish to snuff out as people will also need to commute, & they have not been provided with basic, good transport, yet.

About removing unnecessary intersections on arterial roads - noted. But you do not explain how the problem of gates & entries for buisnesses /offices /shops, etc. can be eliminated. Unless there is a service road adjacent to such arterial road, it will not be possible to operate BRT on peripheral segreagated lanes.

There are dozens of examples of BRT with exclusive lanes in the world, as I had mentioned. China has taken to this in a big way, with about 10 cities having exclusive BRT lanes. Obviously, they face similar problems as us - intrusion.

Once a basic trasport infrastructure is in place, we could start strict enforcement & mark many more painted bus lanes & hope for the best, but as of now, it does seem unlikely that it will work.

asj's picture

Wrong assumptions

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I deduced that it helps with routing of buses, all else would be same as with same-flow lanes.

All else is not same. First, buses are NOT routed around (personal vehicles are routed around), and buses get to claim their rightful place. It should be a very bid deal (and not minimise the way you seem to suggest) when anything that improves overall flow of buses is suggested. Second, essentially mixed traffic moves like a one way other than the buses in the bus lane. This is very different from exsisting situation of mixed traffic and buses moving in both directions and eventually causing mayhem and congestion - a lose-lose situation for all. The proposal will improve traffic flow considerably for everyone. With appropriate route / frequency rationalisation along with making parking limited, a lot more people will move to buses.

The way the leaders see it - the country has far higher priorities. Poverty is over 40%, & some of these poor, in their attempt to make ends meet, become drivers, to start with. The mechanisms for testing & licensing are still rudimentary & expecting them to reach levels where people have far higher incomes & negligible poverty is utopian. It will improve, but it will take time.

If these leaders do care, they will invest the hundreds of crores invested in flyovers and skywalks elsewher. How do you think anything will improve with time when there is no investment at all in reforming licensing and driver training standards. The unmber of people dying on our roads (including the very drivers that supposedly have been allowed to get a license easily so they earn a living) and the number of families left with no bread winners is worth thinking about. Is that the way of eradicating poverty? The burden of accidents, the treatment costs, loss of limbs - who pays for it, who is getting out of poverty because of this? 

 A parking policy & TDM cannot strictly be enforced at present as people do not have any other dependable & convenient transport.

How true is this? In Pune, yes but in Bangalore 5k buses carry 3.8 million (40% of the population), so what is stopping use of TDM measures and reforming bus routes/frequencies to get 5 million in the buses?

But you do not explain how the problem of gates & entries for buisnesses /offices /shops, etc. can be eliminated. Unless there is a service road adjacent to such arterial road, it will not be possible to operate BRT on peripheral segreagated lanes.

First, there are dozens more examples of peripheral bus lanes world wide. Secondly, the driveways that you refer to - if a bus lane goes past it - the conflict arises only when a bus is in the bus lane. This will happen once every 5-10 minutes. With basic education, good signage, people will only have to learn to give way to a bus when its approaching on the bus lane. How much time is lost in this scenario? No more than 10 seconds. And how many cars / vehicles do you think come in/out of these small of-lanes and drive ways - often the number is small nor is the stream of vehicles coming in / out continuous (the side lanes in question on my proposal are small residential hamlets).

I am not referring to BRT like segregated lanes in the periphery at all. Those can be built on limited roads (you have yourself acknowledged this). In Pune 10% of the 1800 km of road length will become BRT, what happens to rest of Pune? Should we not do anything elsewhere? Are we to accept congestion everywhere else other than BRT routes.

My aim of the proposal is not to replace BRT. My proposal augments every other PT project happening elsewhere - be it BRT or a Metro. The goal is modest compared to median BRTs, but what I do not understand is what is stopping us from using every way available to implement priority to buses across the city?

Anyone with sincere interest in implementing Bogota style BRT and improving bus based public transport should be happy with the proposal I make. It is clearly in the interest of BRT. There is nothing within what I suggest that makes use of BRT difficult.

I remain surprised at the resistance in accepting simple methods. In fact what I suggest will cost next to nothing - if it does not work, review it, make it work or revert to square one (this has happened with some bus lanes in London, where on review because the impact was small, they removed the bus lane). But reverting is so easy in what I suggest (as against the megalomanic projects currently planned).

The truth is, my proposal is not popular because huge contracts can't be drawn up, and pension funds (of politicians and officials) can't be augmented.


asj's picture

Addendum 3: FAQ on the project submitted to PMC

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This link will take you to addendum 3 of this proposal -
This document has been framed as a FAQ on the proposal but adds more detail to the proposal as well as attempts to allay any concerns / anxieties on sevral issues such as alternative parking, etc. Unfortunately, I have missed out on commenting on relocating the cobbler and floral hawkers that sit on the bend of Vetal baba chowk. They should be accomodated with permission from ICC within their facility - this is rather common in UK/West
This is not my last communication on the matter. Time (and motivation) permitting I intend  to make suggestions for reforming the PMPML bus routes and frequencies too. 


asj's picture

Final Draft on SB Road, Pune Bus Priority Scheme submitted

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Phew! Just finished submitting the final versions of previously shared proposal.


Shri Pardeshi & Shri Kumar
Commissioner, PMC / CMD, PMPML
Further to recent communications on the above matter, I am now submitting the final draft. You have already very kindly asked your staff to review the previous drafts and trust this final submission is helpful.
Part One of the proposal is available here - (2MB)
Part Two (FAQ format) is available here - (1MB)
Part one now covers in more detail and is 31 pages long:

  1. Current state of SB Road – demonstrates sub-optimal use of available road space along side blatant abuse of an arterial road for parking
  2. Proposal – SB road bus priority scheme
  3. Extension of the scheme to BMCC, Bhandarkar and Prabhat roads as well as FC and JM roads.
  4. Law College, Paud phata and Sus-Pashan roads  get a mention as well in the grand scheme of things.  
  5. Route / frequency Rationalisation and overall mapping of North-Western Pune.
  6. Conclusions & acknowledgements

The FAQ also has several additional details and is 9 pages long.
I will now open this for feedback from general public and share this draft with as many people as possbile. Stake holders may feel free to forward this plan to their respective groups / members.
To collect views of people, I have created a web survey form. People may offer their initial views by visiting this form here -
I await replies from both the PMC and PMPML on this matter
Warm regards,
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