It's the right choice, baby!
Even as big cities including Mumbai and Banglore plan to go for
the metro rail, Union Minister for Urban Development, Jaipal Reddy,
has urged cities to consider alternative technologies, especially
the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) to ease the growing traffic
congestion. Taking their cue from the minister, most people from
transport fraternity have agreed that transport is a state subject
and it should not waste public funds on MRTS. Therefore, it is
practical to adopt a cost-effective system like BRTS for public
BRTS stands for an efficient, economical, modern urban
bus transport arrangement that makes it possible to move a large
number of commuters reliably and swiftly by bus. The system need not
necessarily have a large fleet of buses. But it should have
dedicated bus lanes, platforms only as high as bus floors, smooth
bus movement, computer controlled traffic signals, use of smart
cards and a rapid ticketing systems.
The system generally uses
existing arterial roads, and it can reach all parts of the city. The
main difference between BRTS and MRTS is that the former is a
flexible system operating on roads, whereas the latter becomes a
fixed system that must be well below or above the surface, requiring
passengers to use steps, escalators and lifts.
Dr. Walter Hook,
Executive Director, the Institute for Transportation and Development
Policy, states, "Priority should be given to a high capacity bus
system, and urban planners should improve facilities for cyclists
and pedestrians. The concerned departments and authorities should
take measures to control the use of private vehicles. All these
efforts will lead to less congestion, less fuel consumption and
Speaking to Projectmonitor, renowned
transport expert and coordinator of Transportation Research and
Injury Prevention Programme, IIT Delhi, Dr. Dinesh Mohan, came out
in strong favour for BRTS. He mentioned that all transport systems
that require elevated or underground travel are extremely expensive.
However, whenever a BRTS is implemented, the whole road has to be
rebuilt, giving the city a new look. Surprisingly, much of the BRTS
cost goes in improving roads for pedestrians, cyclists and motor
vehicles. He also pointed out that in the process of rebuilding
roads for including dedicated bus lanes, all street furniture also
On the other hand it seems that people like
Rajendra Mehta, Transportation and Planning Group, Mumbai, cannot
say which system is better -- BRTS or MRTS. He clarifies that it
depends upon urban development pattern, corridor travel demand,
affordability of commuters and traffic congestion. It is possible to
have both the systems on specific corridors.
BRTS is cheaper and
more flexible than MRTS. However, MRTS technology is a proven system
which has been implemented in metro cities in the West. But BRTS,
with exclusive right of way, priority at traffic signals, advanced
information display system and efficient planning of bus stops and
passenger safety; does have a potential in metro cities.
regards the Sky Bus project, it failed to impress the Central
authority on the safety issue. Ultimately the Rane government in Goa
scrapped the project. The lesson from this episode is that the same
fate should not fall on BRTS or MRTS projects.
Dr. Dinesh Mohan
amplified, "Technically, grade separated systems are designed to be
safe, but because they operate in tunnels or on elevated tracks,
they need a huge security force to prevent sabotage, which is an
additional cost for government." However, the construction of MRTS,
monorail or light rail does not reduce accidents on roads. For
instance, the Delhi experience shows that road accidents have not
decreased in the capital since the construction of the first phase
of the MRTS project.
On the safety issue Balkrishnan comments,
"With regards to safety, BRTS is a surface system, and in any
accident help is available for passengers without any difficulty.
MRTS may be partly underground, but the risks apply here also."
However, since BRTS requires a segregated bus way, the risk of
collision with other vehicles is minimal.
"The bus rapid transit
system is the only proven method for shifting passengers from
private cars to public transport. BRTS usually involves changing and
upgrading buses in the existing fleet to induce modern and cleaner
buses," remarked Dr. Hook.