The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) — a system where a fleet of sleek, low-floor buses run on dedicated corridors — might have come under severe criticism in the Capital since it was introduced in 2008.
But a recent study done by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to study the impact of BRT, where it was introduced in October 2009 and runs on a 26-km stretch, shows that if implemented properly, the system can go a long way in decongesting traffic and reducing dependence on private vehicles.
The study done in collaboration with Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) Ahmedabad, found that in just seven months of its operation, 34 per cent of commuters have shifted from private vehicles to BRT. “We expect the shift to continue and reach as high as 60 per cent in the short term," said Prof. H.M. Shivanand Swamy, Centre of Excellence in Urban Transport, CEPT University who was part of the survey team.
While a majority of BRT users (40 per cent) have shifted from two and three-wheelers, the shift by four-wheeler users varies from 4 per cent to 11 per cent. The number of vehicles in Ahmedabad -- which has a population of 5.6 million - is 1.45 million and it is growing at a rate of 7 per cent every year. Of these, two-wheelers form 73 per cent of the total vehicle share.
The daily ridership has increased from 17,000 to 52,000. Interestingly, the study revealed that on Sunday the ridership is more than on week days. “This is because the BRT has connected critical points and recreation spots,” said Prof. Swamy.
So what went wrong in Delhi? “Poor planning and implementation was responsible for the mess in Delhi. The corridor that was selected was narrow which instead of decongesting the traffic added to traffic snarls. Considering Delhi's traffic — the city has six million vehicles — the BRT was not properly integrated to the Capital’s transport planning,” said Prof. P.K. Sarkar, Department of Transport Planning, School of Planning and Architecture.
Also unlike Ahmedabad, it was not a dedicated BRT corridor and allowed other heavy vehicles in the corridor, added Prof. Sarkar. Besides Ahmedabad and Delhi, BRT has also been introduced on a pilot basis in Pune and Vishakhapatnam.