BRT and BHLS around the world: Explosive growth, large positive impacts and many issues outstanding

A survey of Bus Rapid Transit BRT and Bus of High Level of Service BHLS around the world indicates that there are about 120 cities with bus corridors, with 99 of the cities entering into the list in the last 12 years. The existing bus corridors comprise about 280 corridors, 4300 km, 6700 stations and use 30,000 buses, serving about 28 million passengers per day. In 2010–2011, 19 cities completed new systems − 16 in the developing world – and seven cities expanded their current systems. By late 2011, about 49 new cities were building systems, 16 cities were expanding their corridors, and 31 cities were in initial planning. This impressive growth may be attributed in part to the successes of Curitiba, Bogotá, México City, Istanbul, Ahmedabad and Guangzhou. These cities show low cost, rapid implementation and high performance BRTs, with significant positive externalities. Interesting trends are emerging, such as the implementation of citywide integrated bus systems, improved processes for private participation in operations, increased funding from national governments, and growth of bus manufacturers and technology providers. Despite the growth, there are some outstanding issues: BRT and BHLS do not have a single meaning and image and are often regarded as a “second best” as compared to rail alternatives. In addition several systems in the developing world suffer problems resulting from poor planning, implementation and operation, due to financial, institutional and regulatory constraints. The BRT and BHLS Industry are in their “infancy” and there is need for consolidation and concerted effort.

Evaluation of the Delhi bus corridor: lessons learnt and recommendations for improvement

Bus rapid transit (BRT) has extensive applications in South and North America, Europe and the Far East, but it is a novel concept for South Asia. One of the initial projects in India, the Delhi Bus Corridor, has been controversial: media outlets highlighted problems for the general traffic and safety, while user surveys showed improved perception by bus users, bicyclists and pedestrians. The discussion of the benefits and problems of the corridor has been mostly based in perceptions and prejudices. The authors conducted an independent evaluation to contribute with technical arguments to this discussion and to provide suggestions for the corridor improvement. The results were also intended to contribute to the understanding of the BRT concept in the Indian context. The authors conclude that the Delhi bus corridor has improved people mobility along the initial stretch, but requires significant performance, safety and overall quality enhancements. The project only comprised major changes in infrastructure but lacked of integrated implementation of service plans, technologies and operations. User and community education was also insufficient. In addition to ongoing improvements, the authors identified the need to: i) establish a quality improvement program measuring the system performance, ii) focus on improving reliability and comfort; and iii) reevaluate the bus service plans to provide a better match of the supply and demand. The authors also recommend using median bus lanes with strong segregation as the preferred option for bus priority in Delhi. The bus corridor in Delhi provides invaluable experience for the enhancement of transit facilities and services in India and beyond.