Intermittent Bus Lanes - an input for BPS

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BusPublic Transport

Those of you who are coming over to CiSTUP/IISc on Jan 10 will get to hear about in from the Professor himself. But the "intermittent bus lane" concept that was demonstrated at Lisbon in 2005 could be a source of input for evolving Bus Priority System (BPS) proposals in Bangalore.

Naveen is working hard to put up a first cut of a whitepaper on BPS. Once that document is ready, it will be easy for us to move forward on this project as we can align around some tangible written and printable content. We will be releasing this whitepaper on BPS at CiSTUP on Jan 10. Post that, let us all get together to refine, grow and improve on it.

Back to the concept of IBL (Intermittent Bus Lane), the intro paragraph in the paper from Prof Veigas and others, describes it this way:

The concept of Intermittent Bus Lane (IBL) ... an innovative approach to achieve bus priority. The IBL consists of a lane in which the status of each section changes according to the presence or not of a bus ... when a bus is approaching such a section, the status of that lane is changed to BUS lane, and after the bus moves out of the section it becomes a normal lane again, open to general traffic. Therefore when bus services are not so frequent, general traffic will not suffer much, and bus priority can still be obtained.

As you see, IBL would be special lanes on a Road, which will become dedicated to Bus only when a Bus is around.

Now, for the BPS, our sole goal (for the pilot) is to make 335E and G1 routes do their trip faster (by 5 or 10 minutes) than a private car. So the thoughts are focused on two things:

  1. Making Bus cross the top 5 crowded signals via underpass or special lanes/signals. We need a traffic survey to figure the top 5 signals on G1/335E, you could guess wind Tunnel Road, Lifestyle, Kundalahalli etc to be there.
  2. Making Bus cross top 2 crowded sections of the route faster via special lanes. Lifestyle to Richmond, and Marathahalli Bridge to Brookfields could be candidates there.

While we need to work on picking the 5 signals and 1-2 stretches based on some real data, Prof Veigas'es IBL concepts and lessons may be of use for #2 above.

And since we are at it, do look at this Deccan Herald article (Slow response to BRT) to understand why BPS is required.  The "baggage" or "wrong perception" that BRTS carries is the reason such projects are running slow. We first need BPS to win people over.

... the authorities concerned blame the narrow roads of the City for not being able to provide comfortable and highly economical mode of transport for the citizens ... He argued that 60 percent of Bangalore’s roads are narrow and BRTS could be introduced only on wide roads which allow two way transport ...

While the BRT plans on outer ring road are good, if the BRT is implemented after all those new flyovers are completed and ORR becomes signal free, a car user could still do Hebbal to Silkboard trip faster by flying over everything while the Bus goes under all those flyoves to pick up the passengers. The key is to make car and bike people see that Bus goes faster, so that convincing them to switch becomes a lot lot easier. Let us all hope that BRT on ORR will be able to achieve that.


SB aka Pranav

intermitant_bus_lane_portugal-3.pdf500.06 KB


wide roads

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Top 5 crowded signals need to have 3 lane road on each direction to implement a bus lane. Without a bus lane signal priority is difficult. There are not many junctions in old airport road that are wide enough. Should we choose a different corridor?

We can have bus lanes from corporation to majestic, and around majestic area. This will be useful for buses of other routes too, other than buses that go to old airport road.

yes, but only around the signal

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There is a difference between acquiring 2 km long width for 2 extra lanes (and at times killing 100s of trees in the process) versus doing so for just 200 meters before (1 oncoming lane) and 200 meters after (oncoming lane from other direction) the signal. This way, the effort spent on acquiring extra width (court cases, protests, money etc) is more worth it.

The trick is to find a solution for the so called narrow interior roads by providing priority where it will "help" the most. There is not much fun, rocket science or bravery involved in planning BRT on Outer Ring Road, or Peripheral Ring Road or NH7 from Hebbal to Devanahalli.

Lets do some maths

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Let us do some maths, shall we? On a sample stretch - Domlur to Marathahalli, about 4 Km.

  • A traditional, copybook BRTS implementation would acquire one lane (5 m) on each side of Old Airport Road
  • 4 km x (5 + 5 = 10) meters = 40000 sqm ~ 320K  sqft.

Now, let us pick top 3 delay causing signals (Wind Tunnel Road, Suranjan Das Road , and Outer Ring road).

  • 200m before (only need before, not after) each signal. add 100m more for Marathahalli signal, 300m. So total pre-signal lane length = 200+200+300 = 700m
  • Need one lane on each side of the signal, so 700m x 2 = 1400 m ! 1.5 Km worth of single lane width.
  • That is 1.5 KM x 5m = 7500 sqm ~ 60K sqft

60K sqft, vs 320K lakh sqft. That is about FIVE times less land to acquire.

The other crib against BRTS in Bangalore - Can't enforce dedicated lanes, people don't listen - remains.

  • But here, you have 1.5 km worth of lanes to manage, vs 8 km worth of lanes (4 km each side) in traditional approach.
  • So that is again five times less enforcement effort.

Advantage of traditional BRTS approach? Buses would travel faster. But, how fast do we need them to be?

  • Just enough to make buses do the trip faster than cars? 10 minute advantage (talking 335E) would be good enough to generate interest in Buses/BPS and tilt the "public perception".
  • Compare that to current state (20-30 minutes slower, avg delay 335E wrt to car) and perception.

The challenge is in proving that by picking top-5 signals and top-2 slow stretches for priorty, we can give buses the 10 minute advantage over private transport. If we can prove or demonstrate that, BBMP, BMTC or anyone will buy the concept.

200m before (only need

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200m before (only need before, not after) each signal

I had exactly that in mind when I was thinking of this (pic below from that post).



Exactly - 200m Before Signals on the lines of 2 wheelers

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 2 wheelers have the major advantage in signal since they can penetrate and go till front enabling 1st pass in the signal. On the similar lines, buses should get 1st pass in the signals such as Lifestyle signal, Wheeler's Road etc.  Problem is the width of the buses on the Airport road for BPS, easier on the one way stretch. 

Need for BRT on ORR.

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 I still feel the need for BRT on ORR even though it becomes signal free from Silkboard to Hebbal. It cannot scale up upto the level of ever increasing cars in Bangalore.

Initially cars will be faster, after day passes, Buses will be faster.  People do not drive in lanes nor maintain uniform speed resulting in confusions and chaos causing bottlenecks.  Our Road designs will add to more confusions and chaos especially for those taking turns. Our good old Old Madras Road KR Puram Bridge is on the way. 

Looking at the road width, ORR should be made on the lines of Janmarg of Ahmeadabad which is a successful BRT in India compared to Delhi. Consultants should be called from Ahmeadabad just like consultants are called from Delhi for Metro. 



Bus traffic normalization..

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guess the above plan will work well if the bus traffic normalization is done effectively..that is there are not more than 3-4 busses at any given junction..if there are more then they will muscle their way into the mixed traffic causing lot of delays..

What TM indicates above is in place now on mission road next to corpn office..its more a bus stop than a actual BPS..I travel this road everyday and the only problem I see that if there are too many busses..they will delay rest of the vehicular traffic because of their sheer size and their 'bullying' attitude to getting it back to the mixed traffic street..

BPS may not available for all routes/schedules

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Right Sri, normalization is an issue. Like for example, even after G1 being around for an year now, overlaping routes with few km variation only around Varthur/Imaradahalli etc remain. Normalization approaches like building a nice bus interchange at Whitefield, have all local village/connecting routes terminate there, and add more equipment/buses to G1 to up the trunk frequency have not happened, and there may be practical reasons for these things not happening.

Till normalization starts, or otherwise, BPS may be applied only to specific routes. Could be only G1 or 335E in this case, or an entirely new route (say P1, P for priority !). And to get to the city faster than even your car, there may be a small permium (Railwa's superfast surcharge type thing) that may fund the Bus underpasses at 5-6 locations.

Actually, pile ups at the top-5 signals and top-2 choke points is why "bunching" happens. BPS may solve the bunching problem as well for the routes that would be allowed on it.

Right Transmog

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Thanks for the pics Transmog.

A variant of that picture would be replacing the signal with a Bus-only underpass (magic box type). Say, on wind tunner road signal, going to the city from airport side, think of an underpass for Bus. From the other side, signal is just fine (as traffic density merging from ISRO side is much less).

no acquisition yet

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@silkboard, We cant demand acquisition and demolition for a pilot project. Instead we can look for a six lane junction or 3 lane one way road. You need 200m widening even after the signal otherwise traffic merging will slow down traffic a lot.

You are right no point of BRT in ORR, PRR or NH7 kind of roads as such a system will hardly make a difference of 10 mins with bus lanes..

BPS may be applied only to

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BPS may be applied only to specific routes.

which brings us back to the issue of whether we visualize these as BPS-only or BMTC-wide facilities? This might be something to knock around at Mobilicity.




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...the need for BRT on ORR even though it becomes signal free from Silkboard to Hebbal. It cannot scale up upto the level of ever increasing cars in Bangalore.

Agreed. But we're trying to push here for BPS...and not BRT on radial routes. Moreover while the actual effectivness (today) of a BRT on ORR is open for debate, what most of us concur on, is that the greater challenge there would be making the interchange to intersecting radial routes more effective.

Any suggestions?



Bus-only underpasses good but...

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A variant of that picture would be replacing the signal with a Bus-only underpass (magic box type).

True...but it's just that we have such a poor history of the remnant ped infrastructure after the construction of an underpass that I'm wary of them.



request : avoid BRT/ORR talk here

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Good or bad (my mistake in the first place to make a passing reference to it), please leave BRT/ORR talk on this project. Let us keep at BPS concepts, with G1/335 focus so that we can talk specifics.

Naveen has an excellent presentation coming for us. Stay tuned. It will be released on Jan 10, at CiSTUP.

@rackstar - nobody is demanding anything, not right now. If we can just put up a pre-feasibility type report, advocacy will go a long way.

As for any talk of acquisition etc - we don't have any rights to 'demand' any. However, plans to acquire width for "Road Widening" exist for G1 corridor. If we can prove that we can do BPS with a lot lot less than what's proposed in that Road Widening DPR (find it attached in another project blog), we would have a strong point.

Lots of ifs and buts, nobody said its easy or that we will have all the answers upfront. Just need to keep at it and keep moving.

 but it's just that we have

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 but it's just that we have such a poor history of the remnant ped infrastructure after the construction of an underpass that I'm wary of them.

... and more importantly, If the lanes arent barricaded leading up to the underpass, there is no garuntee people wont take the short cut into the bus only underpass clogging that too in the process. atleast I am sure 2 wheelers & autos will be extremely tempted to sneak in.

So let them use it and clog it ...

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... except during commuter hours (7-10 AM), and (5-8 PM) ! Enforcement can be automated by having cameras on the BPS route buses. Take videos of what's in front. On random days, go through the video to note all blocking registration numbers and fine. Under-pass entry gates are also possible (BPS bus comes close, boom gate opens. Gates remain open during non-commute hours).

Yep, enforcing dedicated lanes IS a problem. We can at least reduce the headache by having less of them (dedicated lanes only where they would help the most. 8 KM vs 1.5 KM example in calculations above).

Its worth to make a start, somewhere. People will support such limited distance lane enforcements once they "see" benefits. Right now, nobody can easily "see" the benefits of many traffic rules (lanes, free lefts, honking etc). If the bus can be "seen" doing 15 minutes better than bikes/cars, and people start using the BPS Buses, bus-riders will themselves get down and deal with bus-underpass cloggers and bus-lane gate-crashers, traffic police may not have to do much :)

 Yep, enforcing dedicated

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 Yep, enforcing dedicated lanes IS a problem.

The point really was, while I would rather have the underpasses, or even completely barricaded lanes, I dont see signals as necessarily unenforcable and underpasses as being enforcable.

What is quickly possible with least disruptions? People can see bus signals, and they are easier to build & enforce. Today respect for signals is far better than a few years back. Strengthening that respect will have better all round implications. The same pole cameras that are already deployed can help, cops can stand around and help as well. Maybe, when the traffic outgrows signals we can go for bus only underpasses, or maybe, we can choose a mix based on the traffic intensity at a junction as well.