The basic philosophy behind the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is to accord priority to the buses, which are otherwise stuck in the mixed traffic on account of congestion on the roads. The BRT helps to transport a large number of people in one go in the fastest possible way. The history of the BRT system started in 1966, when the first dedicated busway was constructed in St. Louis, the US and in Liege, Belgium. These busways were converted from the existing tramways. In 1969, the first high-speed busway of 6.5 km length was developed on the Shirley highway busway in North Virginia, the US. In 1971, the first busway of the UK was opened in the city of Runcorn.
The first busway in a Latin American country was commissioned in Lima, the capital of Peru, in 2006. Known as ’Via Expresa’, it covers a distance of 7.5 km. In 1972, London’s Oxford Street was converted to a bus-only street. In 1973, the 11 km El Monte busway was developed in Los Angeles, the US.
The first promising citywide BRT system project was that of Curitiba’s, which features 65 km of exclusive busways and 340 km of feeder service buses.
Curitiba also made subsequent changes in the land use along the BRT corridors to transform into Transit Oriented Development, keeping in view achieving sustained ridership for the BRT system. Many other Brazilian cities also followed Curitiba’s example to develop and to construct basic systems: Sao Paulo (1975), Goiania (1976), Porto Alegre (1977), and Belo Horizonte (1981).
Sao Paulo’s BRTS is currently the longest in Latin America with 142 km exclusive busways serving over 2 million passenger trips each day. Globally, Jakarta has the longest BRT network in the world with 172 km of exclusive network.
In the light of the above BRT systems, Delhi planned to develop a BRT, similar to the system introduced in Curitiba. The BRT project commenced its operation initially for a length of about 5.8 km of project length, linking Ambedkar Nagar to Moolchand in 2008 before the Commonwealth Games started in 2010.
The RITES and the IIT-Delhi were appointed by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to design and implement a system in 2004. The GNCTD created the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) in 2006 to oversee the establishment of public transport systems in Delhi and to operate it on a day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately, the project received severe criticism for the difficulty of access to the bus platforms due to its location in the middle of the road, and for lack of enforcement followed by absence of a comprehensive network. The major difficulty was the newly designed two-lane motor traffic lane as against the earlier three-lane existing road on both sides. It made an immediate impact on the corridor, resulting in an unexpected huge delay at traffic intersections.
A significant number of users are reported to have used private vehicles due to inflexibility and unreliability of the bus system. Delhi had proposed the construction of 26 BRT corridors totalling 326 km to be developed by 2020. Finally, the AAP-led government ordered the scrapping of the bus rapid transit system, leading to its dismantling in 2016. On the other hand, the Ahmedabad BRT earns immense popularity and is showcased as one of the best in practice.