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Bus Lanes Can Cut Mumbai's Congestion, Study Says
A new study shows that buses in designated lanes, like these in Delhi, can carry more people using less road space.  Photo: jenspie3.

A new study shows that buses in designated lanes, like these in Delhi, can carry more people using less road space. Photo by jenspie3.

Cars take up more space on Mumbai’s roads than buses and carry fewer passengers, says a recently released study. What’s more, a mere 10-20% increase in the number of buses along with designated bus lanes can make a serious dent in congestion and pollution.

More than 65% of the space at the city’s arterial junctions is occupied by cars, which carry around 40% of the total number of passengers. In contrast, buses occupy just 8% of road space at the same junctions and carry 45% of the passengers.

Increasing the number of buses on the busiest routes and creating designated bus lanes will boost bus ridership and decrease the number of vehicles on the roads. In effect, this change could greatly improve the efficiency of Mumbai’s transportation systems. One lane generally carries 2,000 people instead of the 20,000 it could carry with separated bus lanes, according to Madhav Pai, technical director of the Centre for Sustainable Transport in India (part of the EMBARQ Network, which produces this blog.)

More buses in their own lanes would decrease the number of other vehicles on the roads.  Graphic: Times of India.

More buses in their own lanes would decrease the number of other vehicles on the roads. Graphic: Times of India.

These statistics have provided sustainable transport advocates with even more evidence of the need for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Mumbai. Transport experts took the findings to Dilip Patel, chairman of the BEST bus system, urging BEST to implement BRT as soon as possible.

Patel agreed to push the issue forward, and is planning a meeting with political leadership.

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  • Kalpak

    what can you suggest as an alternative… I liked your analysis to criticise but would be glad if you can analyse and find an alternative

  • Dear Megan,

    I share the same opinion as Mr. Budhkar. Implementing dedicated BRTS lanes in Bombay seems hard in most places except on large roads such the Western or Eastern Express Highways – apart from these and other such roads, there doesn’t seem to be any space to have dedicated BRTS corridors. Also, on routes where BRTS corridors can be developed and implemented, wouldn’t having a Metro or Commuter Rail be more efficient in terms of commuter-capacity and pollution levels? Bombay is the most densely populated city in the world and it seems hard to imagine that BRTS corridors can address its mass-transportation needs. Although, it would be interesting to read the details of any study for implementing BRTS corridors versus Metro or Commuter Rails for Bombay before one really makes a judgment on BRTS corridors for Bombay.

    Regards,
    Nikhiel.

  • Anuj Budhkar

    Sir,

    The BRTS would be difficult to implement here and a faiure (like skywalks) because-

    Consider the data given in the same above table. Although the buses cater a large chunk of public here, if PCU’s of bus is taken into account (199*2.8)=560 is quite less compared to other vehicles (1328 + 452 + 73*2.8 + 466*0.75)= approx 2350 This is the calculation of Passenger car units=PCU’s based upon time and space of a pavement occupied(bus/comm vehicle 2.8, car/auto=1, 2wheelers=0.75). Thus you can see bus traffic is only 15% of total traffic and you are reserving middle 1/3rd of road for buses, Then naturally you have to expect congestion in middle 1/3rd lane.

    For bus traffic, consider 1 BRTS bus has 35 passengers, and say 25 buses make 5 trips each for 150 km network (say) in Mumbai city. Then for all these passengers the busstops are in the middle of road, imagine the passenger-crossing traffic and pedestrian traffic that will be otherwise avoided.

    So Sir, i think BRTS would be a total flop atleast in predeveloped cities in India. It can be tried in developing cities.