The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) could help the Tamil Nadu government realise its goal of an increase in the mode share of public transport from the present 27 per cent to 40 per cent, according to the regional director of The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy Shreya Gadepalli.
Briefing reporters from Chennai in Ahmedabad recently about the success of Janmarg— Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit System, she said that BRTS would not only help improve public transport share, but also cut down on the number of accidents involving public transport in Chennai.
She added that to achieve nearly two-thirds of all motorised trips by public transport, Chennai could learn from the Ahmedabad model, which faced key challenges such as rapid growth, socio economic changes, reduced transit patronage, resource mobilisation and providing mobility options.
Talking about the functioning of Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit System, Akhil Brahmbhatt, deputy general manager of Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL), said that an exclusive bus lane in Ahmedabad was worked out on a network of corridors, selected on the basis of a detailed study of movement patterns to reach the largest segment of people.
Brahmbhatt said that BRTS was designed as a strategic intervention keeping in mind, the constraints in Ahmedabad such as road width, encroachments and traffic disorder.
“It is the result of a calculated experience of ensuring ease of movement to all users of the road,” he said. Signals have been provided at all crossovers to help in pedestrian movement.
The buses operating on BRT lanes are totally different and could be used on both the dedicated lanes and the normal lanes. The buses in Ahmedabad BRT system use several types of technology that include automated vehicle tracking system, ticket validation, passenger information system (announcements made via speakers about next bus stop and LED displays).
They also have a seating capacity of 36, besides a standing capacity of 36 and the frequency of these buses is high, so that it doesn’t result in overcrowding, added Brahmbhatt.
The BRTS buses in Ahmedabad operate in open and closed system. In closed system, it functions as a trunk and feeder system and runs in exclusive busways.
In open system, these buses move in both the dedicated, as well as mixed traffic.
Talking about Chennai, Shreya said that presently, 83 per cent of all trips on public transport are served by city bus service operated by the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC). The remaining trips are made on suburban and Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS), rail services operated by Southern Railways.
She also added that none of the public transport modes was of a high quality, and that buses were overcrowded during peak hours and their speed were dropping by the day due to growing traffic congestion.
To improve the situation, the Government of Tamil Nadu is building a modern metro rail system and there are advanced plans to create a monorail system.
However, these rail systems do no connect all parts of the city. People will not shift to public transport unless they get seamless connectivity on a high-quality, integrated network. It is important that the city quickly fills the gaps in the network with a high-quality MRT system. BRT is one such solution that is quick to implement, inexpensive, and has a high capacity.
She added that BRTS can provide high-quality service to complement the rail systems, thereby increasing overall ridership on public transport.
She also discussed a feasibility study conducted by ITDP with phase 1 network, including Poonamallee - CMBT (14 km), Ambattur-Thirumangalam (7.7km), CMBT-Madhavaram (12.4km), Siruseri-Saidapet (24.8 km), Tambaram-Airport (10.5 km), GST Road junction-Thoraipakkam (10.6 km) that have 97 BRT stations, not including major interchange terminals on and off corridor, that provide connectivity to other MRT systems.
The phase 2 network of 78.6 km and phase three network of 98.3 km can be created subsequently.