Sunday, October 18, 2009

The future bus system

Everyone is talking about climate change. With the big meeting just 2 months away and no good deal in sight because of countries waiting of their counterparts to take the first step, it now becomes every individual’s responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint if the government can’t come up with a plan. One of the most advised methods are to use public transportation or use bio-fuels for household chores or ride a bicycle to work. Every responsible citizen wants to reduce their carbon footprint but why do we still find it so difficult to shift to public transportation? Didn’t we wish public transportation was more comfortable and fast? In India, there is no certainty of when the bus or trains would arrive or for how long you would be stuck in traffic as we don’t have separate lanes for buses or cycles. Riding a cycle in big cities like Delhi (in India) isn’t a safe option as most of the people have very little sense of traffic rules. With two wheelers available at prices as low as 550 USD and the cheapest car coming at 2000USD and inefficient bus transportation system, it just has become very easy for people to use personal vehicles rather than use public transport. 

The government understands this and since past few years it has made efforts to make public transportation much reliable than before.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

The bus rapid transit means a high-capacity transport system with its own right-of-way, which means high-capacity buses are operated in lanes reserved for their exclusive use. BRT system exists in many countries like Australia, Northern America, Europe, China, Indonesia, Brazil and a few more in South America. It’s a new concept in India with Pune being the first city in India to implement it in 2005. BRT system has been operational in Delhi since 2008 june. Several other states in India are also trying to replicate the idea of BRT system.

                                                                    A daily sight in large cities

Roads constitute 20% of land in Delhi, the highest road to land ratio in the world. The number of motorized vehicles has increased by 9 folds since last 3 decades thus decreasing the average speed, increasing congestion and pollution. The need for BRT arose when it became clear that it makes no sense for the cars to occupy 70% of the road space given that they just move less than10% of people. BRT managed to provide cheap, efficient and fast means of communication but at the cost of slower movement of car traffic. According to TRIPP (Transport Research and Injury Prevention Programme), if people are stuck in jams in their cars, and see buses speeding by, they would realize that it is more costly to travel in car in terms of time.

                              A BRT lane v/s general purpose lane


After the introduction of BRT system, the demand of travelling by buses has increased by 20% in those regions with BRT system. The average traveling time has reduced by almost 30mins and 80% of bus commuters have approved for BRT system in other parts of Delhi. These buses also run on CNG which further continues in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Total length of road that has been dedicated for BRT is a little less than 100k.m. The government has plans for 292k.m. of BRT by 2020.  But, I believe, if there could have been a 20% increase for just 100k.m, they should cover a larger portion as total road length of Delhi turns out to be over 28,000k.m!

BRT comes as an easy solution for the government to encourage public transportation as it costs 8 times less than construction of metros. The government also plans to increase its metro rail length to 493k.m by 2020 from the existing 128k.m long route.

It hasn’t been easy for the government to introduce BRT and has faced a lot of resistance from some sections of the society, and also want the government to scrap off the plan of BRT. Inspite of the approval by a large chunk of daily travelers, there voices remain unheard as majority are from the lower economic classes. This has slowed down the expansion process. Hopefully, people will understand its importance soon. 


Anindita Nayak

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