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Moving Cars, Not People, on Delhi’s Bus Corridor?

The Delhi BRT corridor may become open to mixed flow traffic. Our experts think it shouldn’t. Photo by EMBARQ India.

Parts of this post originally appeared as an editorial in the The Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time on Monday August 13, 2012. Dario Hidalgo and Madhav Pai, the authors of the editorial, are senior staff with EMBARQ, the producer of this blog.  Their comments are in response to the argument for justifying the use of bus lanes by all vehicles on Delhi’s bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor.

“The fate of Delhi’s attempt to use bus corridors as part of its public transportation system will be decided by the city’s High Court. If Delhi doesn’t proceed, it would be among the minority of world cities without bus corridors. Mexico City has opened Line 4 of its Metrobus system and Rio de Janeiro has inaugurated 30 kilometers of its proposed 150 km BRT (bus rapid transit) network. Globally, 140 cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Beijing use designated bus corridors to support the mobility of millions of people every day.

“The debate touches the core of the National Urban Transport Policy, which speaks of “moving people, not cars.” This concept highlights transportation as providing people with safe and efficient means to get from point A to point B. When we study statistics of transportation, it is important to look at the number of people who benefit. Two-thirds of Delhi’s population use bus transport, while less than 20% are private vehicle users. Yet, an interim court order favours the minority, eliminating the bus priority and allowing all vehicles to use the designated bus lanes. This move negates the purpose and effectiveness of the bus corridor.

An assessment of the corridor in 2009 showed commuters benefited from using the corridor as part of their journey. Delays faced by general traffic at intersections were offset by the reduced travel times experienced by bus commuters. The assessment also indicated that the corridor was not a full BRT, and lacked most of the components of such systems. Being only 5.8 km, it was a corridor in evolution and required improvements in many areas, particularly a monitoring system with performance indicators. The report included recommendations on improving operations, communications and branding, and for the corridor to be extended to Delhi Gate, as originally planned. Such systems haven’t been implemented.”

Read the full article here.

Darío Hidalgo is EMBARQ’s Director for Research in Practice. He has more than 20 years of experience as a transport expert, consultant, and government official. He has taken part in urban transport projects and taught training courses in 10+ countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Madhav Pai is the Director of EMBARQ India. Madhav has over 12 years experience leading, designing and managing urban transport programs and projects in India, Asia and United states. Prior to joining EMBARQ India he was Regional Director at Citilabs, a transport planning Software Company and headed operations in South and South East Asia. His work on progress of BRT projects under implementation in Indian Cities and his analysis on the Urban Transport situation in Indian Cities has been recently published.

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