JANMARG : BRTS AHMEDABAD
BRT is a transportation model that promotes mobility of buses on the road by dedicating a special lane for the buses and giving them right of way. BRT model was first implemented in Curitiba, Brazil, beginning services in 1974. This model was later followed by several cities worldwide, to name a few: Bogota, Columbia; Istanbul, Turkey; Lima, Peru; Ahmedabad, India. This blog will discuss the implementation of Janmarg in Ahmedabad and its impact on the city’s transportation.
Janmarg is operated by Ahmedabad Janmarg ltd, a subsidiary of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Before Janmarg, common modes of transportation preferred by people were public buses run by Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services (AMTS), private cars, two wheelers or auto rickshaw (three tired motorized vehicle). However with buses getting overcrowded and increasing petrol prices, transportation was getting unreliable and costlier than before. Janmarg began operating on the streets of Ahmedabad in October 2009. Presently Phase I has been completed. Phase II is under the process of completion and phase III is yet to begin. After completing all the phases Janmarg is expected to stretch over about 135 kilometers through the city. Presently Janmarg is covering nearly 45 kilometer stretch.
The design for Janmarg project is provided by CEPT (Center for Environmental Planning and Transportation). BRTS designs all over the world were studied before applying design criteria for Janmarg. The important design features include:
a. Closed BRT system with median* bus stations
b. specially designed buses
c. off board fare collection
d. Provision of information system for convenient navigation and
e. Station design for enhanced public space.
Another important aspect of Janmarg Ahmedabad is that the discipline of the bus lane is followed. There are huge fines for a private vehicle entering the bus lane. As per the Janmarg users, these rules are followed strictly as the only vehicle running in the bus lane is “the bus”. Of course credit needs to be given to the designers who planned roads and bus stations in the median of the road and guarded by the barricade and green islands such that stations are accessible to the people from both sides of the roads however small vehicles and cars cannot enter the road.
Janmarg has definitely proven to be working in the city in terms of increased ridership as the ridership has increased from 18000 when it started to 130000+ as of December 2012. A huge part of the ridership covers workers who live in the outskirts of the city and need to get in the city for work. Affordability of Janmarg has made these people quit their private vehicle (especially two wheeler) and benefit from the Janmarg [Personal conversation]. Apart from ridership, it has been reported that 65% of people using Janmarg walk to and from the bus station. The active transportation promoted this way is generally between 0.2 to 1.5 km, and thus reducing vehicle emissions. With the expanding Janmarg network and accessibility to more people, reducing carbon footprint can be one of the important “side-effects” from the project.
Connectivity and mobility can lead to other developments too. As reported by the UN, the expansion of Janmarg through areas which were vacant formerly (especially mill lands) is creating new developments. These developments are expected to work as housing and commercial areas for urban poor.
Poor transportation is one of the chronic problems faced by India. Rampant corruption at every level of government service makes this issue difficult to handle. However, with increasing urban expansion and population, I think policy makers cannot neglect public transit development in the nation. The city of Ahmedabad has taken some steps in rejuvenating the public transit of the city and now many other cities in the same state and neighboring, are following similar patterns. However, this is just the beginning and even more work needs to be done in the future. For this blog I spoke with my friends and their connections from Ahmedabad. They aptly notice that maintaining the reliability and efficiency will be very important. Presently at peak hours Janmarg buses are overcrowded. Increasing the number of buses and their frequency can help mitigate some of these problems. Another interesting thought that came out was the transit condition in the areas where Janmarg is absent. Many people say that as Janmarg needs lots of space. As a result parts of the city without Janmarg are squeezed and are creating traffic congestion, noise pollution and air pollution. In the areas where Janmarg has been implemented social, environmental and transportation aspects are being benefitted making progresses in the right direction. The expansion of Janmarg through the city can help deal with the increasing traffic demand in a sustainable way and set an example for the cities struggling with the transit problem.
*Median Bus Station: Bus Stations are located in the middle of the road
Thanks to Glen Southerland for proofreading.