The first major step in conceptualization of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT)
system in Delhi was taken in 1995, when Central Pollution Control Board
recommended introducing segregated bicycle lanes and bus lanes. This was
followed by an international workshop organized by the Delhi Transport
Corporation in collaboration with SIAM, IDFC and IIT Delhi on High Capacity Bus
System in January 2002. BRT implies giving right of way to buses and
safeguarding cyclists and pedestrians by encouraging lane driving on engineered
road spaces along large and wide corridors. Besides giving priority to buses,
the system also provides dedicated lanes for pedestrian and non-motorized
vehicles like cycles, rickshaws, etc.
Keeping in mind the Commonwealth Games to be held in October this year, the
Delhi government undertook the BRT corridor project. In 2004, GNCTD appointed
RITES and IIT Delhi for designing and implementing the first corridor from
Ambedkar Nagar to Delhi Gate. RITES was appointed the Project Management
Consultant and TRIPP IIT, Delhi the technical and conceptual advisor. In 2006,
GNTCD established Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS), a special
purpose vehicle to oversee the establishment of public transport systems in
Transport System has undertaken several initiatives in order to make
traveling accessible for the physically challenged. Some of the features
include pedestrian island including curb ramps and tactile floor tiles
(combination of guiding path and warning strip for visually disabled
passengers). The Passenger Information Systems will provide information to
visually and hearing impaired, in addition to signages and route numbers in
braille; provision of leveled areas for wheelchair bound passengers.
Delhi government plans to build twenty-six BRT corridors, covering a total
length of 310 km by the year 2020. By 2010, seven BRT corridors will be
completed in phase I. Apart from the current Ambedkar Nagar-Delhi Gate corridor,
the next BRT will be from Shashtri Park to Karwal Nagar in East Delhi. However,
the required modifications will be made in the design in line with the lessons
learnt from the first phase.
However, the BRT corridor rollout has been anything but smooth; what with the
Comptroller and Auditor General of India blaming the state government for
ignoring the advice of agencies, and creating exclusive bus lanes which shrank
road size and created congestion for other vehicles.
The BRT operations are taken care of by a corridor manager whose work
includes traffic management, bus operation, recovery of disabled vehicles, etc.
Another interesting feature of BRT is PIS (passenger information system) boards
on all the fifty-eight bus shelters. Currently, global positioning system (GPS)
is installed in the new low-floor buses on four routes.
During the trial run, several technical and operational difficulties like
malfunctioning signaling systems, undisciplined private vehicular traffic,
jaywalking pedestrians cropped up.
The current static traffic signal system installed at BRT corridor is many
times restored to manual operations of the signals which are inefficient. The
manual and automatic systems have conflicting signal phases, thus, switching
system from automatic to manual and vice-versa. There is an urgent need to
install Intelligent Transport Signaling System to automate the whole process.
The system should also be equipped with vehicle tracking facility. On the
existing BRT corridor, it has been observed that there is no set traffic pattern
and traffic movement is unpredictable. The static system of traffic light,
therefore, cannot sense the change in traffic pattern resulting in slow
throughput and un-utilized green time. An intelligent traffic system will not
only synchronize the traffic signals on the corridor, but also on connecting
routes to the corridor.
Even though BRT corridor project has seen a fair amount of criticism, a
number of other cities in India including Hyderabad and Ahmadabad are taking
lessons and rolling out BRT.