As we talk of building smart cities or making existing cities smart, one of the major pain point to address is public transport. We have been seeing cities adopting bus rapid transport system(BRT or BRTS) as means of public transport. Pune started very early, but have not made good progress. Delhi has been having it for quite some time, but the other day I heard Delhi has been getting rid of BRTS, not sure why. I was Ahmedabad sometime back, where I noticed BRTS there as well which is called Janmarg. Benguluru has implemented Metro railway, but no BRTS.
Once in a while, I travel by BRTS introduced in Pune city and also in PCMC area sometime back by PMPML with big fanfare in PCMC area. The BRTS line on east side of Pune on Nagar road has become a joke now, as it is going for last 5 years, not sure why it is not started despite that fact that it seems be ready since a year or so. Anyways, I cannot resist to share the experience on Pune BTRTS which is branded Rainbow(इंद्रधनुष्य), here on this blog.
The BRT stations as they call to refer the bus stops, are nicely done and remind railway platforms as one see commuters waiting there for their bus. The automatic doors at the stations still work. These stations also have maps of BRTS routes, monitors showing ETAs of various buses which is nice. They open as the bus enters the station and closes after it leaves. The buses seem be in good shape from outside, but quality inside is not good. Automatic doors make pretty bad noise while opening and closing. I noticed a continuous beep in shrill voice at these doors. I don’t understand why these buses have names such as Vajra(वज्र) followed by route number. Vajra or Vayu Vajra buses are brand names of similar buses in Bengaluru. The buses still have conductors who tenders tickets to commuters, which could have either automated by vending machine at the bus stop or at the driver’s seat. Another interesting feature the BRTS has availability of special parking space at various BRTS stations, for commuters to park their vehicles and take BRTS further on. This is surprise to me, and the intent is obviously to encourage and make it easy to commuters to use BRTS.
At every junction, intersection on the BRTS route, you see attendants manning the traffic to ensure that there is no obstruction to BRTS buses. I see this fall out of lack of accommodating for automatic control in the design. How long we are going to have these attendants man it? It is absolutely not scalable, sustainable. Talking attendants, one can see them inside the BRTS stations also. Hope they will go away soon.
Another design flaw came to fore by yesterday’s incident which was reported in the newspapers. The incident occurred when a bus on the BRT route stopped moving as it had fatal failure. And there was a pile up of other BRT buses behind it. This is disaster of sort. And there is no plan to recovery in the design. There was no way for bus to be removed from the route, or towed to pull out area, as there are no designated pull out areas nor there is a emergency lane. Not sure how BRT authorities are planning to address this.
Despite some these challenges, I feel, all in all, bus travel via BRT is one step further, better safety due to closed doors, though some might think thrill of hanging in the open doors is now lost.