August 01, 2009

‘Best Practice’ BRTS Wows World

Ahmedabad: The highly ambitious Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is being praised not only by officials of its elected wing, but also foreign experts in the field.

The Ahmedabad Janmarg is already a ‘best practice’ BRTS, said Dario Hidalgo, senior transport engineer of EMBARQ, a centre for sustainable transport which works with cities in the developing world to help implement solutions to problems of urban mobility.

Hidalgo was speaking on the ‘Key to success in bus systems’ at CEPT University. However, very careful completion and then continuous monitoring and improvement are required for the success of the project, he said.

Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd (AJL), the company formed by the AMC to develop and run the BRTS in the city, has put in place the basic requirements under such a project, such as centralised control, large buses, wide and multiple doors, distinctive image, stations with level boarding and segregated medians.

Hidalgo said that AJL has able and spirited leadership, which is backed by political will and the continuous support of CEPT and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), and careful and gradual implementation with visible results.

He pointed out that the success of the BRTS project depended on many factors, including infrastructure, cooperation between stakeholders and the demand-supply equation. In addition to maintenance of the buses and the corridor, that of the bus stations and good traffic management will make the system rapid in the real sense, he said.

Hidalgo compared the Delhi bus rapid transport project with that of Ahmedabad, saying that though the former had good infrastructure, it lacked speed and as many as 20 buses would queue up at a time at the Chirag junction in the national capital.

Traffic management, Hidalgo said, will be the key to the success of the BRTS in Ahmedabad. “It is not possible to build many foot-bridges for pedestrians. Some arrangements should be made for the safety of those crossing the road,” he said. “AJL needs to complete the pedestrians crossing at the far side of the stations, promote the use of the bike track and complete the interior details and signage.”

Measuring the performance of the bus operators will also help in improving the quality of the service provided to the passengers. “Continuous performance monitoring is a must for the success of a rapid bus system,” said Madhav Pai, technical director of the centre for sustainable transport.

Pai said that there must be some clause covering penalties for operators failing to perform at a certain level. “The penalty should not be meant for additional income, but should be used to encourage the real performers,” he said. AJL has included this clause in the agreement with the operators.

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‘Best Practice’ BRTS Wows World

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