Research Project

Design Manual for BRT Systems in Indian Cities

Geetam Tiwari and Dinesh Mohan

Project Details

Foreword

 

Bus Rapid Transit System Design Guideline has been developed to provide transportation planners and decision makers with information regarding the planning, design and implementation of a Bus rapid Transit System project.  The guideline has evolved over the years as our research team has continued to work from conceptual level details to planning and design details during implementation and construction phase of these projects. The guidelines explain the BRT system in the context of Indian cities; it also guides the planners through the entire process of planning and designing a complete BRT system in Indian cities.  It is hoped that the guideline will serve as an important tool for the officials involved with the planning of public transport systems and provide them with a deeper understanding of the entire process. We are grateful for the support provided by UNDP, Institute of Urban Transport, and Volvo Research and Educations Foundations. 

Introduction

Urban Transportation in India

 

India is one of the world’s largest urban systems.  Presently there are 53 cities in India with more than one million population and about 43 percent of the total urban population lives in these cities (census, 2011).  In1951, the share of people living in the urban areas was 17 percent of the total population, this figure increased to 30 percent in 2011.  Provision of safe and convenient mobility for all city residents has become a necessity for urban planners.  As a result, it has become increasingly necessary to provide efficient urban transport systems for the people living in urban areas.  Numerous attempts have been made by different city authorities in the form of building new and improved infrastructure often to accommodate the increasing number of private vehicles like cars and two wheelers.  However, in spite of these investments and plans for integrated development, all cities continue to face the problems of congestion, traffic accidents and noise and air pollution. 

One possible reason for the failure of these initiatives can be that neither the proposed infrastructure nor the integrated land use and transportation plans take into account the existing variation in socio-economic conditions resulting in conflicting demands for transport infrastructure.  The metropolitan cities of India can be described as comprising of several small cities with different economies that happen to be located in close proximity to each other.  While one economy serves the affluent people and takes on the outward appearance of a developed country, the other is used by both the rich and the poor and is mostly characterized by informal markets and economic deprivation.  The transportation needs and choices of these two sectors differ significantly and the urban travel demand needs to be understood in the context of this differentiated urban growth.

 

Public Transport in Indian Cities

Over the last ten years, the cities of India – big and small – have experienced a rapid growth in the number of personal vehicles on the streets, a phenomenon more commonly referred to as motorization. 

The rising income levels and the increasing affordability of motorized personal vehicles have made the people more willing to invest in them as a solution to their daily mobility needs.  This process is made even simpler by the easy availability of bank loans and various finance schemes that can aid people in buying a car or a motorized two-wheeler. 

Public Transport Versus Personal Vehicles

In spite of the initiatives of either the city governments or the informal sector to provide some form of public transportation within the cities, the public transport ridership has been steadily declining over the past few years.  The modal split of the trips being observed in a network is the result of a series of decisions taken by the user before actually making the trip.  These decisions are based on maximizing the users’ utility in terms of both time and money.  Not only are the existing transportation policies making it easier to use personal vehicles, but they are also making it more difficult for the users to choose the public transport systems as the preferred mode of travel. 

Are Buses the Best Form of Public Transport Systems?

Public transport is the predominant mode of travel in most cities of India.  This consists of modes like buses, intermediate public transport (IPT) mostly comprised of three wheeled tempos or small buses and cycle rickshaws.  The IPT, found in small and medium cities, is the answer provided by the informal sector to the mobility needs of people without a formal public transport system.  The following table provides an idea about the extent of usage of such facilities in some small and medium sized cities of India.

Are Buses the Best Form of Public Transport Systems?

Public transport is the predominant mode of travel in most cities of India.  This consists of modes like buses, intermediate public transport (IPT) mostly comprised of three wheeled tempos or small buses and cycle rickshaws.  The IPT, found in small and medium cities, is the answer provided by the informal sector to the mobility needs of people without a formal public transport system.  The following table provides an idea about the extent of usage of such facilities in some small and medium sized cities of India.

Bus Demand in Indian cities

There are 4,000 cities and towns in India including cities having a population of less than 1 million to those that have more than 9 millions.  There are 147 cities which have a population of less than 1 lakh, and 177 cities that have a population between 1 to 5 lakhs (census 2001). About 28 cities have a population of 5 to 10 lakhs, 6 cities with populations of 10 to 20 lakhs, 3 cities with populations of 50 to 100 lakhs and 3 cities with a population of more than 100 lakhs.

City size and Public Transport Demand

The demand for public transport is dependent on both the physical and socio economic characteristics of urban areas. The availability of road infrastructure, geographical spread of the city, mixed landuse patterns, population density, and income distribution are some of the important characteristics that influence public transport demand. As these characteristics change with time, the public transport demand also changes. The different levels of public transport demand can be broadly divided in four major levels for bus transport planning

Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRT)

Buses best serve the mobility demands of Indian cities.  Keeping in mind the existing urban structure, the observed travel patterns and the fiscal strength of the Indian city governments, revamping the existing bus system offers a viable solution to meet the mobility demand of the majority of the city residents..  However, as the buses are forced to share the same right of way as the rest of the traffic, it suffers considerable delays due to congestion and the frequent traffic signals.  This situation is worsened by the fact that the buses have to stop at regular intervals in order to pick up and/or drop off riders, thus making the travel times significantly higher when compared to personal modes like cars or two wheelers.  Studies have proved that due to all these reasons the average speed of the buses is only about 60 percent of the speeds obtained by other personal motorized vehicles

BRT Design Guidelines – Aims and Objectives

The aim of this guideline is to provide transportation planners and decision makers with detailed information regarding the planning, design and implementation of a BRT project.  It is hoped that the guideline will help the city officials become familiar with the concepts to support BRTS development, and aid them in evaluating the viability of applying these concepts as and when the situation demands.  There is a lot of uncertainty amongst professionals about what the BRT system is and how it is different from other conventional bus systems.  The ability of this system to adapt itself according to different needs and requirements makes this an ideal system for growing cities.  As no two BRT projects are alike, a lot rests on the way this system is interpreted by the professionals. 

The guideline also addresses the needs of planners and engineers planning the geometric and operational details of the BRT system.  The guideline explains the BRT system in the context of Indian cities; it also guides the planners through the entire process of planning and designing a complete BRT system in Indian cities.  It is hoped that the guideline will serve as an important tool for the city planner, policy maker and transport experts involved and provide them with a better understanding of the entire process.

Network Planning

Introduction to Network Planning

Network planning is the most important aspect of public transport systems in general and BRT systems in particular. Connecting each origin and destination with a direct route is ideal for users of the system because it provides door to door connectivity without transfers. This is important in the context of Indian cities where two wheeler ownership is high providing door to door connectivity with a minimal requirement of parking space. However, often this may result in a low demand on individual bus routes resulting in low load factor and high operating costs.An optimal public transport network should provide a high level of accessibility to the users with minimal transfers and maximize the net revenue for the operator. A network of routes can be created such that the users can make any journey by using a combination of routes.  “The term route network is generally used to refer to the aggregation of transport routes serving a particular area and implies that the individual routes are complementary to one another so that the travelers may use one, two or more different routes in the course of their journeys”[1].  In simpler terms, network planning refers to the act of developing a network of routes to be followed by the proposed public transport system such that it increases the accessibility and connectivity for the residents. 

However, before actually understanding the process of planning a network let us first understand what exactly a network is and what is meant by the terms connectivity and network accessibility.

Corridor Planning

While the selection of the final set of roads to be converted into BRT corridors from the options highlighted by the previous step of network planning does constitute a major portion of this next step, there are many other aspects that are also associated with it.  These include detailing out the planning and design of each of these corridors in terms of the number of bus stops to be located along them, the location of these bus stops, the location of the bus lanes, the lane configuration based on the existing and proposed traffic and pedestrian flows, integration of the feeder infrastructure with the proposed system and providing designated space for hawkers and vendors.  In addition, corridor planning would also include planning for the successful operation of the service along these corridors.  This would involve planning for various factors that have the potential of affecting the efficiency and subsequently the usability of the entire system as a whole. 

  Not only does this section of the design guidelines provide the criteria that need to be looked at while selecting the final set of corridors for the proposed BRTS network, it also includes the details about the location and design of the other components of a corridor such as bus stops, bus lanes, MV lanes, NMV lanes and so on.  Finally, the last part of the section introduces the reader to some of the concepts that have a bearing on efficient corridor operations and briefly explains how these should be incorporated in the planning and operations.

Design and Construction

Introduction

To implement a design on site, detailed drawings of each component are required. These drawings should illustrate the dimensions of the components and the materials to be used. The parameters used for deciding sizes, slopes, colors, textures etc. are based on the expected usage of the components. This necessitates extensive information on who uses the different components, why and how, thus requiring primary and secondary data surveys and collection. Section 4.2 discusses methods of data collection and types of data required. Subsequently, section 4.3 discusses the design details and material and textures of the different components of the BRT corridor.

Road Markings

Road markings are essential to guide the road users and to ensure smoother flow of traffic. They guide the users of the situations coming ahead and thus to react accordingly. Markings have to be of standard color and dimensions and should be marked at appropriate places so as to optimize the visibility and effectiveness.

          This design guidelines is aimed at discussing the standard markings, their purpose and places where they should be marked. Firstly, we discuss general guidelines for the road markings and then later on we discuss the application of these standard markings as per the road users.

Safety guidelines for construction of BRT

Introduction

 

The construction of the corridor requires redesigning road alignments and laying of services across the Right of Way (ROW). To execute this, it requires working in stretches or segments. The Safety Plan can be designed and executed with the help of a traffic management plan and a construction plan prepared for each segment according to the construction Work Plan. Therefore it is necessary to prepare a detailed construction work plan, with monthly and weekly targets for each segment. Monthly and weekly targets should be converted to daily tasks.

The Work Plan should be in accordance with the Traffic Movements. It is advisable to make a phase wise description of the construction work plan, in which, planned interference in the moving vehicular/ pedestrian traffic near bus shelters and footpaths are defined. This shall be achieved by making a Tabular format (Table 1) of construction stages and the respective interventions, namely;

  • Intervention in Pedestrian movement/ Bus shelters etc.,
  • Intervention in Alignment/ Width/ Geometry,
  • Intervention in Traffic Flow/ Direction,
  • Intervention in Signals.

In the table, these stages would be defined on the basis of the PMC/ Contractor's work plan.

 

 

 


5 Richard Iles – Public Transport in Developing Countries. Chapter 8 – Routes and Schedules.Pg 167.2005 Elsevier Ltd.

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