May 16, 2008

Delhi BRT as good as scrapped, say experts

52. DelhiBRT_May16_thepioneer

International experts have given thumbs down to the functional Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor in the Capital. After a visit to the corridor to assess the existing situation, the experts pointed out the shortcomings like faulty bus stops, pileup of buses on the bus lanes and need of Operational Control System on route between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand Hospital. After a workshop on ‘BRT and non-motorised transportation in Indian cities: Problems, solutions and road ahead” on Thursday, Walter Hook, Executive Director of Initiative for Transportation and Development Programmes (ITDP), New York, said that with bus stops on the left side of the new system in Part B, the corridor stands “as good as scrapped”.

“I was stuck in the traffic on corridor and witnessed two breakdowns in the span of half an hour when I went for a site visit on Wednesday. Considering high traffic volume of 12,000 passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD) on the corridor, the speed of the buses is very slow, at 13 km per hour. According to international BRT standards, on a regular BRT corridor, the speed should be around 25 km per hour while that on a dense traffic BRT corridor, it is expected to be around 18 km per hour,” Hook said while narrating his own experience on the corridor.

Hook also found the designing of the traffic signal faulty. Presently, there are six signal phases of six minutes each. By restricting the movement of buses taking right turn at selected intersections, one cycle can be reduced which will increase the passing time of the vehicles. Hook further said that movement of other buses in the bus lane caused disruption of the movement of BRT buses. Also, the authorities contract out difficult parts of the corridor to private sectors, which causes problem as they are not associated with the project.

Talking about Part B of the corridor in the Capital now planned between Moolchand to Delhi Gate, Hook said that with nearly 200 buses commuting in one direction in an hour, the situation is all set to be chaotic. “With nearly 100 buses per hour per direction presently, the speed of the buses will be reduced further to 6 kilometers per hour. To manage this, trunk, feeder and complimentary routes should be considered,” he suggested.

PK Sarkar, Head of Transport Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, said the benefits given by authorities on BRT are merely theoretical in nature. “On one hand, the Government gives incentives to car users while on the other, they want people to switch to BRT. The Government has to decide whether it is a car-oriented or public transport-oriented society,” said Sarkar.

Simon Bishop, Transport Planner, London, and Visiting Research Fellow, Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) suggested that motorcyclists should be given a separate lane while local people should be consulted to combat their problems.

Those present on the occasion included Dilip Chenoy, Director General, Society for Indian Automobiles Manufacturers (SIAM), YP Anand, former chairman, Railway Board, BI Singhal, former MD, RITES, Manoj Agarwal, Head (Road Transport), DIMTS.

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