The rapid pace of urbanisation in India, coupled with rapid motorisation, is not only leading to increased traffic congestion and mounting social disparities, but is also a growing a source of harmful local pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. ITDP strongly believes that safe, modern, and efficient public transport can help answer these problems. While effective rail-based public transport plays a vital role in many regions, ITDP’s key area of expertise is bus rapid transit (BRT). ITDP India works to spread knowledge about BRT and provide technical assistance to Indian cities pursuing BRT projects.
BRT is an innovative rapid transit system that combines the efficiencies and quality of metros with the flexibility and relative low cost of buses, while offering significant environmental benefits. World-class BRT achieves comparable levels of speed, capacity, and passenger comfort and convenience as rail-based systems, but can be built at a fraction of the cost and construction time. BRT provides cities with a pragmatic and affordable solution to ensure that their public transport systems keep pace with urban growth.
Compared to a regular bus, the journey on a BRT is much quicker because BRTs enjoy bus-only lanes and off-board payment at stations. And since the station floor is at the same level as the bus floor, BRT is easily accessible to individuals with limited mobility.
Over the past several years, ITDP India has provided direct assistance to city governments and has been involved in the planning and implementation of world-class BRT systems in Ahmedabad, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad. Ahmedabad’s BRT system—known as Janmarg, or “People’s Way”—is the first full BRT system in India. Ahmedabad set a precedent for high quality service that has been replicated in BRT systems in the cities of Rajkot, Surat, and Indore. ITDP India is also exploring opportunities to advance full-featured BRT systems in Chennai, Coimbatore, Nashik, and Tiruchirapalli.
The BRT Standard
Despite the increasing prevalence, prominence, and success of BRT, many people remain unaware of the characteristics of the best BRT corridors that enable them to provide levels of service more typically associated with metro systems. To create broader consensus on the key features of BRT, ITDP recently played a role in establishing the BRT Standard. It introduces a common definition of BRT and ensures that BRT systems more uniformly deliver world-class passenger experiences, significant economic benefits, and positive environmental impacts. It also functions as a technical tool to guide and encourage municipalities to consider the key features of the best BRT systems as they move through the design process. The BRT Standard certifies BRT corridor as gold, silver, bronze, or basic. In India, Janmarg is the first BRT system to achieve a Silver rating in the BRT Standard.
While high capacity public transport solutions can move citizens across large distances within a city, good last-mile connectivity is important to make these systems accessible to a greater number of residents. Over the last ten years, many progressive cities in the world have introduced cycle sharing systems as a solution to this challenge. Cycle sharing systems provide offer a dense network of stations. With a smart card or other form of identification, a user can check out a cycle from a station, use it for a short ride, and return it to any other station. Besides improving last-mile connectivity, cycle sharing provides a new mobility option for short trips.
In 2012, the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, released Public cycle sharing systems: A planning toolkit for Indian cities. Developed with support from ITDP, this toolkit introduces the key ingredients of best practice cycle sharing systems from around the world, draws from lessons learned from these systems while presenting adaptations to administrative structures and transport system typologies found in the Indian context. Maintaining high quality standards and excellent customer service will be critical to the successful rollout of cycle sharing in India over the coming years. ITDP India has been providing assistance to cities such as Chennai, Coimbatore, Gandhinagar, Puducherry, and Tiruchirapalli in the planning and implementation of high quality cycle sharing systems. These system will make it easier and affordable for people to use cycles whenever and wherever they need them.