At the crossroads of central China, Yichang is building a better future. Today, the city broke ground on the first of five planned BRT corridors, a major step toward improving public transit in a city with chronic congestion and air quality concerns. The corridor, planned with ITDP support, incorporates cutting edge corridor design, including bike lanes and pedestrian safety measures, and plans for guiding development and growth in the surrounding area. When complete, the BRT promises to be a major feature of the city, and will improve travel times, accessibility, and quality of life for thousands of city residents.
With construction of the BRT starting today, Yichang will soon see the implementation of new street designs, station construction, and intersection improvements. The corridor will run 23.9 kilometers with 37 stations connecting major transit hubs in the north and south of the city. Work crews have already begun relaying pavement, widening sidewalks, and adding dedicated lanes to the street along the central Dongshan Avenue.
The new BRT corridor incorporates BRT best practice design elements that boost its efficiency and impact. The system will have off-board fare collection, platform level boarding, and dedicated lanes, all key elements of true BRT. Learning lessons from the Lanzhou BRT, the Yichang system will feature a mix of central boarding platforms and split stations.
In addition to its impressive BRT design, the corridor will feature bike lanes, providing strong intermodal connection, and pedestrian safety measures such as wider sidewalks and at-grade crossing, providing safer access to the BRT stations. Dongshan Avenue is a major commercial road with heavy traffic and congestion, making it a prime location for BRT to connect bus riders with shopping and employment. ITDP China continues to work on an urban development plan along the corridor to guide the growth of commercial, residential and public space to maximize the benefits of the BRT.
In the next several years, Yichang plans to build five BRT corridors, for a total of 116.3km. It is expected that Dongshan Avenue will be the most complex line to construct, due to the dense traffic and the lack of existing infrastructure. Once the first corridor been successfully implemented, the following four will be easier to add in quick succession.
ITDP China has played a leading role in the advocacy and development of the Yichang BRT. In the early stages, ITDP facilitated site visits to the Guangzhou BRT by Yichang officials. Along with partners at the Yichang Municipal Government, Yichang Urban Construction Commission, Yichang Communication Commission and GMERGRI, ITDP was instrumental in the technical design and implementation of the system, and continues to provide ongoing support for long-term planning. ITDP advocated strongly for the inclusion of bike lanes and pro-pedestrian measures, and through the creation of an urban development plan will encourage high quality TOD along the corridor. The project is supported by the Asian Development Bank as part of their ongoing focus on developing high-quality BRT and other transit options throughout China.
With construction underway, the city expects the system to open in mid-2015. When fully operational, the BRT will cut travel times across the city dramatically from 92 minutes to 59, and help alleviate congestion and bus delays. City officials have expressed excitement for the program, citing its benefits to the city’s infrastructure and public image.