The world is going through a number of transitions which are needed with the passage of time and generations. One such highlighting transition that is to be expected soon is the transfer of users from private to public transport to counter a number of issues that have been proliferating since the past few years. Public transport has been promoted across the world owing to its wholesome benefits and thereafter, world economies have struggled to introduce new innovative ideas to facilitate such services better. One such service that has been widely introduced is the BRTS system, also known as, Bus Rapid Transit System.
BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) is a term for public transport systems, specifically buses that provide more reliable, fast, and efficient services, unlike ordinary buses. The additional ‘S’ in BRTS stands for a system which makes through many different BRT. It is a citizen-centric initiative to provide quality services to the public. BRTS makes travel more convenient, faster, and cost-effective. It has been speculated that it may reduce accidents due to the specialized service provided.[i]
NEED FOR BRTS
The rise of income level and higher employment generation has led to a shift to private vehicles among a majority of social groups. Consequently, resulting in an exponential rise in pollution, traffic jams, congestion, accidents, intolerance, etc.
Even western countries adopted this model to reduce pollution and noise of private vehicles, to avoid traffic jams. It provides rapid mobility for the people who live in congested areas. Dedicated bus lanes ensure that commuters reach their respective destinations 10-15 minutes faster than usual. If we compare buses to other metros or cabs we will find buses cheaper and it makes on already existing roads. It is affordable as well due to the cost of its infrastructure is 10 times less than a rail system.
The first BRTS was implemented in Curitiba, Brazil in the name of Reed Integrada de Transporte in 1974. This service inspired many services around the world. Jakarta is considered the largest BRT network in the world with a 251.2 km long corridor.[ii]
OVERVIEW OF BRTS
The main objective of BRTS is to achieve the service quality of metros and rail while providing a cost-effective fare. It provides two lanes for private vehicles, a separate lane for cycle and pedestrian way which enhances the smooth movement of traffic.
Some special characteristics of this model are:
- Affordability with high frequency.
- Dedicated bus lanes with electrically-powered trains for the utmost safety, better riding experience, and faster routes.
- Coverage over diverse groups (all income ranges).
- Off-bus fare collection allows passengers to board quickly.
- An E-ticketing system and GPS-enabled facility make it a smart and futuristic transport system.
- Stations provide ramps for physically challenged people to use wheelchairs.
- Specialized mechanisms to provide for women safety.
BRTS & INDIA
The proposal for BRT was first mooted in Delhi in 1996 to reduce road injuries. Delhi constructed a 5.8 km long corridor in 2008 that comes along with the provision of separate bus lanes and stations typically aligned to the center of the road, off-board fare collection, and fast operations. BRT has some essential features like a dedicated right of way with fencing, bus-way alignment, intersection treatment, platform level buses, etc. which make the entire system a perfect package for the regular public.
As per the records of 2016, about 35 million passengers use BRTS every day for local commutation. Janmarg (named by honorable prime minister Narendra Modi which means people’s way which carries citizens more safely) in Gujarat is one of the largest BRT systems in India with an 80 km system network in which around 1.20 lakh passengers travel per day. It is one of the lifelines of public transport in Gujarat.[iii] The Government of India recognized Hubbali, Karnataka as the best urban mass transit project (22.3 km corridor)[iv]. Currently, BRTS is functioning in Ahmedabad, Indore, Jaipur, Rajkot, Bhopal, Delhi, and Pune. Ahmedabad BRTS route buses use CNG which is very efficient to reduce pollution.
11 cities of India have started the system but due to the high cost of making separate lanes for buses, the whole plan goes in vain, and funds dried up. It needs sophisticated planning, skilled engineers, and many helping hands. A good system requires a matching height of the station, adequate passenger information, high frequency, proper architecture, and a management system in India.
However, in the case of Delhi, this model is failing because people use their private vehicles instead of public transport, owing to the lack of cleanliness of buses and stations that compels the public to make a wrong perception. The Centre formulated the BRTS plan for South Delhi. However, due to the economic constitution of society, the system turned out to be a complete failure. In a nutshell, the world has marked the positive points of this system at different levels and societies. On a general overview, it can be determined that this system has helped to reduce the number of accidents, travel time, fare, the emission rate of harmful gases, viz. nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, etc. along with a significant rise in the economic productivity, employment opportunities, etc.
BRTS may not be an apex example of urban transport, but it is a key element of sustainable future transport wherein the importance and reliance on public transport will increase at the maximum rate. It creates a multi-modal transportation system with attractive travel choices and safeguards pedestrians and cyclists by separate lanes.
Proper evaluation and monitoring of infrastructure of corridors is the need of the hour. Visibility is an important criterion for women’s safety in buses. The internal layout of stations should be barrier-free for the physically challenged. Customer satisfaction should be a major agenda. It is the right time to recognize the importance of BRT because transportation is the fastest-growing source of global climate. Shifting from private vehicles to these corridors would drastically cut emissions, eliminate jams, and reduce accidents. Sustainable transportation provides better services and opportunities thereby; it can be assumed that BRTS is a lifeline of urban transportations.
Featured Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/03/Harmoni_Central_Busway_Transjakarta_1.JPG/1280px-Harmoni_Central_Busway_Transjakarta_1.JPG
[i] MICAELA GOMEZ, “What is the BRT Standard?” Goal systems, 2020. http://www.goalsystems.com/en/blog-en/technology-and-innovation/what-is-the-brt-standard [last visited on December 2, 2020].
[ii] DEBAPRIYA TRIPATHY & DR PRADEEPTA KUMAR SAMANTA, “Advanced Transportation Systems and Infrastructure Development in Developing India: Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in India: An Overview” Technoarete, 2020. https://www.technoarete.org/common_abstract/special_pdf/special_09458.pdf [last visited on December 2, 2020]
[iii] WRI INDIA, “India’s Bus Rapid Transit Systems: An Inspiration for Other Countries”, World Resources Institute (WRI) India 2020. https://wri-india.org/news/india%E2%80%99s-bus-rapid-transit-systems-inspiration-other-countries [last visited on December 2, 2020]
[iv] “Bus Rapid Transit”, Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN), 2020. https://www.ctc-n.org/technologies/bus-rapid-transit [last visited on December 2, 2020]