The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project in Ahmedabad has received award from United Nations for its successful implementation, and in other Gujarat cities, like Surat, have also won accolades, but in Delhi, it only led to traffic jams, accidents and inconvenience to pedestrians and local residents. The experiment failed in Pune too, where it led to traffic bottlenecks and deteriorated the traffic problems. The reasons, why BRTS project failed in Delhi, while it is a major success in Gujarat are as follows? The Gujarat government uses Information Technology for all areas of governance, including management of public transportation. This was applied to Gujarat’s BRTS model based on which it functions through intelligent traffic signalling systems, GPS for management of the fleet of buses, and other such world-class systems to ensure success.
The research that went into creating the BRTS project in Ahmedabad was comprehensive. During the first three months, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) ran BRTS for free and collected commuter feedback. During the trial run that was three months long, the AMC also picked up students, professors and teachers, journalists, top industrialists of Gujarat-and gave them free rides to seek suggestions. Based on this feedback, changes in the design were made. The planning of the lanes, the design of the buses, the computerised traffic management and signal control system from a chamber in the AMC office, all of this was done keeping the ground realities in mind.
The people, who were to be the ultimate users of the road transportation system, were then given the sense of ownership. Recently, Gujarat has also set up a Multimodal Affordable Transportation Authority (MATA) view to share knowledge from projects related to BRTS. On the setting up of the MATA, Modi said, “It is very important to have a holistic and integrated approach to move towards an energy efficient and sustainable future. We are, therefore, setting up of a MATA to ensure development of integrated multi-modal systems.”
MATA is also being created with an eye on developing water-based transportation parallel to the road based transportation network in Gujarat. The Modi government has proposed the development of many world-class cities along Gujarat’s coastline. Talking about world-class cities being developed along Gujarat’s 1,600-km long coastline, Modi said, developing a multi-modal transportation system is essential for safe and fast waterways, Ghogha-Dahej roll-on-roll-off service, besides using the 468-km long Narmada Main Canal for waterway transport. Water buses have already been started in River Ahmedabad for tourists. And the Metrolink express between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad for connecting the twin cities is on the anvil. Such is the success of the public transportation related initiatives in cities like Ahmedabad where people are able to commute from one place to other in less than 20 minutes, else in other cities, the same distance takes up to an hour.
Currently, Ahmedabad is planning for a proper metro line that will connect it with the nearby state capital, Gandhinagar. Plans are also being developed for the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar metro to have one Automatic People Mover System (APM) a driverless cab, which will move commuters between specific destinations. In the long run, the state government plans to have metro for Vadodara and Surat as well.
Almost all the cities in India are currently plagued with acute urban transportation problems, but the success of the BRTS experiment in Ahmedabad shows that these problems can to a large extent be mitigated through effective use of technology and modern transportation systems.
Few days ago, the BJP unveiled its election manifesto, which included promises on a number of urban issues: To build out the country’s high-speed rail network, to build “100 new cities,” and to build out the country’s gas and fibre-optic infrastructure. And if BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi comes to power, it is expected, he will reciprocate the Gujarat model in all other states.