BRTS India | Features, Types, Examples , Advantages & Disadvantages

Introduction

The UN report of 2014 states that about 54 percent of the world’s population resides in urban areas. This count is assumed to rise to a whopping 66 percent by the year 2050. This could pose an issue for the public transportation system in cities where they are already operating at breaking point. Migrants often rely on public transportation for their daily commute which in turn increases congestion. Public transport system congestion has become a major problem in cities like New York , Mumbai etc., which has to be addressed immediately. The increasing need for urban mass transit mobility is being addressed in the cities all across the world by following the best practices in the world. BRTS is one of the many practices followed.

What is BRTS?

Bus Rapid Transit System or commonly known as BRTS is a high-quality transit system which is based on buses. Its features are mostly similar to that of metro rails. BRTS consists of one single lane which can transport up to 20,000 passengers in one direction per hour.  It is one of the most successful transport systems, which reduces delays, accidents, congestion and various other problems. This system is highly accepted in India because it helps the society in achieving their needs. The construction of BRTS is quite simple when compared to other transit systems. Big budgets or high-level technologies are not required as the existing roads itself can be converted into BRTS lanes.

Related: Transit Oriented Development (TOD) | Definition, Principles and Benefits

History of BRTS

BRTS in World

The BRTS concept was implemented for the first time in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974. It was developed by the then mayor, Jaime Lerner and was called ‘Surface Metro’. This brilliant transportation system inspired various other countries to adopt similar systems in their cities. During the 1970s, development of BRTS was done mostly in North and South America, only after 1990s did the system make its way to other continents. Quito, Equador (1996), Los Angeles, USA (1999) and Bogotá, Columbia (2000) are few cities which have implemented this transit system. Bogotá’s success drew attention of the world. It is the most famous and advanced BRTS in the world.

BRTS in India

In India, cities like Jaipur, Ahmadabad, Indore, Vijayawada, Delhi, Pune, Bhopal and Rajkot have successfully implemented BRTS, covering a total network of 120km. The total investment for these transit systems have been more than 13.6 billion rupees. The first BRTS in the country to be operated was Rainbow Bus Rapid Transport System in Pune and Pimpiri Chinchwad in the year 2006. Many more routes are yet to be constructed in cities across India. Hyderabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli routes are in planning phase and are yet to be finalized.

Why BRTS?

With the increase in population in urban areas, there is an equal amount of increase in demand for cheap, convenient and safe public transportation system in India. Rail-based transit systems are expensive to construct and maintain. The construction of rail-based systems take a long time, hence they cannot be in reach for a long time to come. People and the government prefer a new cost effective, fast mode of transport for the convenience and conveyance. BRTS full fills these requirement’s, as it is fast, cost-effective, safe, and comfortable. BRTS can serve to all types of environment be it sub urban or urban. The buses can be driven by humans or electronically guided, can be driven on aerial structures, freeway medians and underground.

Features of BRTS

The features of BRTS are:

  • Separated lanes: In BRTS system, the inner most lanes are allotted to buses, to ensure that congestion do not delay the buses.
  • Off board fare collection: Passengers pay the bus fare in the station instead of paying on board. This reduces the passengers to cause delays in normal city buses.
  • Platform level boarding: At grade bus lanes are preferred for easy access, operational flexibility and reducing costs.
  • Stations: The station which is the entry point vary in design from simple stops with shelters to multi-modal terminals.
  • Route maps, signage and real-time information are displayed in stations or in vehicles.

Advantages and Disadvantages of BRTS

Advantages

Disadvantages

Grade separated provides high sense of safety and saves travel time Construction of graded lanes has high capital value
BRTS lanes do not interfere with mixed traffic Lanes with no interference may not be attainable always
Designated curb side bus-only lanes improve BRT travel time making buses competitive with automobile Implementation of new bus lanes with street widening may displace parking and pedestrian paths
Converted High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, allow buses to operate faster, more reliably and more safely than buses in mixed traffic lanes Since buses share lane with HOV’s, automobiles may impede bus operations. This make HOV lanes less efficient than bus only lanes.

Related: Factors to consider when choosing mode of transport

BRTS Models/Types

Level of BRTS Characteristics
Full BRTS
  • Metro quality service
  • Integrate network of routes and corridors
  • Closed, high quality stations
  • Off-board fare collection
  • Frequent and rapid service
  • Modern, clean vehicle
  • Marketing identity
  • Superior customer service
BRTS
  • Segregated bus way
  • Typically, pre board fare payment
  • Higher quality stations
  • Clean vehicle technology
  • Marketing identity
BRTS Lite
  • Some form of bus priority but not fully segregated bus ways
  • Improved travel time
  • Higher shelters
  • Clean vehicle technology
  • Marketing identity
Basic
  • Segregated bus ways/ single corridor services
Busway
  • On-board fare collection
  • Basic bus shelter
  • Standard bus vehicles

Conclusion

BRTS has proven itself to be successful and a sustainable mode of transportation throughout the world. It is over the edge when compared to other modes of transportation, given its high sense of safety through provision of separate lanes for the buses. The bus fare, quality of the buses, air conditioning adds up to its charm thus making it popular among the masses. The total construction expenditure is also significantly lower when compared to MRTS, since existing infrastructure is but to use. However, the implementation of BRTS has few challenges too, like, the city must have adequate number of cross sections in order to provide right of way to the buses, maintain the quality of mixed traffic lanes and minimize noise levels and maintain air quality.

Author

B. DAKSHINYA
Member of NOSPlan
Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University


References

  • Gupta K, Singh A, Dwivedi V, Tandon (2014) BRTS: An Effective Mode of Public Transport https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321212043_BRTS_An_Effective_Mode_of_Public_Transport
  • S. Kumara (2009). Planning for Bus Rapid Transit Systemin Indian Metropolitan Cities: Challenges and options. Institute of Town Planners, India Journal 6 – 4, 09 – 21, October – December 2009
  • https://www.itdp.org/library/standards-and-guides/the-bus-rapid-transit-standard/what-is-brt/
  • Figure 1 source: BRT Metro Bus Cartoon, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WWYUdC0SwM
  • Figure 2 source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/High-density-along-the-North-South-BRT-corridor-in-Curitiba-All-public-transportation-in_fig1_277574273
  • Figure 3 source: A review of bus rapid transit implementation in India, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311916.2016.1241168