March 14, 2007

Make way for public transport

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“The Master Plan is a very progressive document in as far as it proposes bus lanes, pedestrian corridors, and cycle lanes on every arterial road in the city.  The document also recognizes the role of non-motorized transport.  The new proposals are, however, in stark contrast to existing road conditions, where there are huge traffic jams in the absence of proper management systems for public spaces,” Dr. Hook said.

Dr. Hook heads the New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), which provides technical expertise to municipal authorities on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems.  It is involved in the BRT systems in Guangzhou, China; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Jakarta, Indonesia; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Ahmedabad, India.  Dr. Hook, also initially involved in the planning of the ‘High Capacity Bus System’ of Delhi, said a well-managed, bus-based transport system integrated with the Metro rail system “physically and through ticketing systems” is what will dissuade people from using personal vehicles—and save Delhi.

New York is now planning to start five BRT corridors along with over a dozen other cities in America.

Dr. Hook had a few observations to make about the HCBS coming up in Delhi.  “The HCBS in Delhi is currently being built merely as physical infrastructure.  But the bus operation to be installed in Delhi should have been designed first and then the infrastructure planned accordingly for better efficiency.  Otherwise, the system will work at 20% less efficiency, leading to losses that may have to be passed on to consumers,” Dr. Hook said.

He added that if the STA buses and DTC buses were left to operate as they are, HCBS will not be very effective.  “There is still time to put the operational and management systems in place so that the HCBS is at par with the best systems, as in Bogota (Colombia) and Curitiba (Brazil).  The BRT systems in these countries operate efficiently and without any government subsidies and tickets are reasonably priced,” he added.

“If professionalized operations and management systems are not introduced in Delhi now, then citizens will not be able to enjoy a safe and comfortable journey,” he warned.

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