Scaling Up the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTs)

Making sustainable transport the way to go in Indian cities

The successful implementation of a bus rapid transit BRT system is crucially dependent on marketing that sets the system apart from the traditional urban bus service. Photo by EMBARQ/Flickr

The successful implementation of a bus rapid transit BRT system is crucially dependent on marketing that sets the system apart from the traditional urban bus service. Photo by EMBARQ/Flickr

Like many cities around the world, Indian cities are experiencing urbanisation, motorisation, and increasing congestion. Coupled with declining public transport use and infrastructure expenditures that promote a car culture by building roads and flyovers (overpasses), Indian cities are losing out on the standard of living that residents deserve. The next decade requires focus on precise and system-wide improvements. The call of the hour is to introduce operational, infrastructural, technological, marketing, and financing innovations to double the mode share of public buses in the next decade. For Indian cities to be livable, city bus and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems must become an integral part of urban development. 

BRT aims to combine the capacity and speed of a light rail or metro system with the flexibility, cost and simplicity of a bus system. A BRT system will have most of these elements: bus way alignment, off-board fare collection, intersection treatment, platform-level boarding, high frequency all day service, high capacity vehicles, quality stations, a prominent brand or identity, safety and reliability. 

Recognising the need for improved bus services, many Indian cities have transformed mobility through the implementation of innovative bus transit solutions in recent years. BRT systems have been introduced in cities like Vijaywada, Vishakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Bhopal, Indore, Pune, Kolkata, Pimpri Chinchwad, Raipur, Hubli-Dharwad and Delhi. Cities in the developing world are in search of sustainable solutions to their accessibility and mobility related problems. Indian cities are discussing about the suitability of public transport system. More than 14 cities have adopted BRTS and 11 are at the planning stage. 

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