BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) – A fail or Pass- becoming potential smart cities projects


Rapid transit in India consists of busmetromonorail and light rail systems. Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is a rapid transit for city bus service in India.

Bus Systems under JnNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) in India was a massive city-modernisation scheme launched by the Government of India under Ministry of Urban Development. It envisaged a total investment of over $20 billion over seven years.

  • In 2009, 15260 buses sanctioned for 67 cities. 14000 buses purchased for 63 cities
  • Nine cities adopted BRTS systems.
  • 2013-14 – Additional 10000 buses and ancillary infrastructure was sanctioned for Rs 4500 crores but only 20% was utilized.
  • Failure to build institutions (SPVs) to operate the bus systems, lack of robust fare policies and non adherence to schedule and routes.
  • Few agencies (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation) planned and implemented support infrastructure (bus stops, bus depots and operation centers).
  • Barriers for Bus Mobility:

40 buses were suggested per one lakh population.

City Population (2011 metropolitan region) in million Bus Fleet Strength
Mumbai 18.4 3430
Kolkata 14.1 4256
New Delhi 16.3 6906
Bangalore 8.4 4185
  • Lack of Preventive Maintenance:

High breakdown frequency and lower operating ratios.

The following table shows BRTS in India along with details.

System City State Start of Operations System Lines System Length (KM) Stations
Ahmedabad BRTS


Ahmedabad Gujarat 2009 October 14 12 87 126
Indore BRTS


Indore Madhya Pradesh 2013 10 126.46 N/A
Jaipur BRTS


Jaipur Rajasthan 2010 July 2
Rainbow BRTS


Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Maharashtra 2006 December 4 23.6
Rajkot BRTS


Rajkot Gujarat 2012 October 1 1 63 19
Surat BRTS


Surat Gujarat 2013 January 26 2 114 148
Vijayawada BRTS


Vijayawada Andhra Pradesh 2011
Amritsar BRTS


Amritsar Punjab 15 December,2016 7 68 136
Bhopal BRTS


Bhopal Madhya Pradesh 10 186 230
Bhubaneswar BRTS


Bhubaneswar Odisha 2015 2 66.32 TBD
Raipur and Naya Raipur BRTS


Raipur and New Raipur Chhattisgarh 2016 Nov 1 2 60 10
Hubali-Dharwad BRTS


HubaliDharwad Karnataka 2014 2 70 33
Kolkata BRTS


Kolkata West Bengal 1 15.5
Jodhpur BRTS


Jodhpur Rajasthan 2016 January 15
Ludhiana BRTS


Ludhiana Punjab 48
Mumbai BRTS


Mumbai Maharashtra 2014 1 11.7
Visakhapatnam BRTS


Vishakhapatnam Andhra Pradesh 42
Chennai BRTS


Chennai Tamil Nadu 1 70.3 21
Coimbatore BRTS


Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 1 27.6
Hyderabad BRTS


Hyderabad Telangana 2 39
Madurai BRTS


Madurai Tamil Nadu 2
Tiruchirappalli BRTS


Tiruchirappalli Tamil Nadu 4 112
Guwahati BRTS


Guwahati Assam
Delhi BRTS


Delhi Delhi 2008 7 115.5


  • * In service
  • **Under construction
  • ***In planning
  • ****Proposed but not planned
  • *****Proposed to be scrapped
  • Lack of feeder services at intermediate and final destinations :
  • Congestion
  • Cities with population more than 8 million:
  • Average trip length of 10.4 km
  • Average speed of 17 kmph (as against the stated speed of 30kmph)
  • The average speed is projected to reduce to half ( 9kmph) by 2021 and one-third (6 kmph) by 2031.
  • Vehicle Restraint Measures, Road Space Allocation, Parking Management
  • Role of Technology
  • Bus Signal Prioritization
  • Real Time Passenger Information Systems


  • Why BRTS failed?

BRTS failed to increase the number of public transport users in Ahmedabad. Before launch of BRTS, in 2009, the number of public transport users (users of AMTS) was 8 to 8.5 lakh. After six years of operation, in January 2016, it is found that the number of public transport users (combined users of BRTS and AMTS) dropped to 7.5 lakh. During the same period, the number of private vehicles in the city increased by 54%, up from 18.2 lakh to 25.10 lakh. Only 18% of the total population of the city uses public transport.

In 2011, 42 km network of BRTS had daily average passenger traffic of 1.2 lakh which increased only marginally to 1.32 lakh in 2016 despite expansion of network to 89 km.

In 2015, AJL spent ₹ 98 crore on operation incurring loss of ₹ 35 crore. In 2015, there are 213 buses with AJL. 80% of them are air conditioned diesel buses which has average of 1.5 km per litre of diesel resulting in increase in air pollution. Air conditioned buses can not be run on CNG and they are meant to attract more passengers. Dedicated BRTS corridors cause traffic jams at several places especially in Old Ahmedabad.


  • Other metrics used to evaluate BRT performance include:
  • The vehicle headway is the average time interval between vehicles on the same line. Buses can operate at headways of 10 seconds or less, but average headways on TransMilenio at busy intersections are 13 seconds. 14 seconds for the busiest section of the Metrobus (Istanbul).
  • Vehicle capacity, which can range from 50 for a conventional bus up to some 200 for an articulated vehicle arranged for standing passengers. Merobus Istanbul operates both Mercedes-Benz Citaro with a capacity of 150 and Mercedes CapaCity with a capacity of 193.
  • The effectiveness of the stations to handle passenger demand. High volumes of passengers on vehicles required large bus stations at busy interchange points.
  • The effectiveness of the feeder system — can these deliver people to stations at the required speed.
  • Local passenger demand. Without a local demand for travel, the capacity will not be used.

Based on this data, the minimum headway and maximum current vehicle capacities, the theoretical maximum throughput measured in passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD) for a single traffic lane is some 90,000 passengers per hour (250 passengers per vehicle, one vehicle every 10 seconds). In real world conditions TransMilenio holds the record, with 35,000 – 40,000 PPHPD with most other busy systems operating in the 15,000 to 25,000 range.

Location System Peak passengers per hour per direction Passengers per day Length (km)
Ahmedabad Janmarg 132,000 89
Bogotá TransMilenio 35,000 – 40,000 2,154,961 106
Guangzhou Guangzhou Bus Rapid Transit 26,900 1,000,000 22
CuritibaBrazil Rede Integrada de Transporte 13,900 – 24,100 508,000 (2,260,000 inc. feeder lines]) 81
Mexico CityMexico Mexico City Metrobus 18,500 850,000 115
Belo HorizonteSão Paulo 15,800 – 20,300 24
Istanbul Metrobus (Istanbul) 7,300 – 19,500 800,000 52
Tehran Tehran Bus Rapid Transit 2,000,000 150
Jakarta TransJakarta 40,000 373,000 216
New Jersey Lincoln Tunnel XBL 15,500 62,000 (4 hour morning peak only)
Brisbane South-East Busway 15,000 23

Source: Wikipedia

Comparison with conventional bus services:

Conventional bus services being delayed by traffic congestion on Chang’an Avenue in Beijing

Conventional scheduled bus services use general traffic lanes, which can be slow due to traffic congestion, and the speed of bus services is further reduced by the time spent at bus stops for passengers to board the vehicle, pay the fare, and to pull back into traffic.

In 2013, the New York City authorities noted that buses on 34th Street, which carried 33,000 bus riders a day on local and express routes, traveled at 4.5 miles per hour (7.2 km/h), only slightly faster than walking pace. Even despite the implementation of Select Bus Service (New York City’s version of a bus rapid transit system), dedicated bus lanes, and traffic cameras on the 34th Street corridor, buses on the corridor were still found to travel at an average of 4.5 mph.

In the 1960s, Reuben Smeed predicted that the average speed of traffic in central London would be 9 miles per hour (14 km/h) without other disincentives such as road pricing, based on the theory that this was the minimum speed that people will tolerate. When the London congestion charge was introduced in 2003, the average traffic speed was indeed 14 kilometres per hour (8.7 mph) which was the highest speed since the 1970s. By way of contrast, typical speeds of BRT systems range from 17 to 30 miles per hour (27 to 48 km/h).


BRT systems have been widely promoted by non-governmental organizations such as the Shell-funded EMBARQ program, Rockefeller Foundation and Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), whose consultant pool includes the former mayor of Bogota (Colombia), Enrique Penalosa (former president of ITPD).

Supported by contributions of bus-producing companies such as Volvo, the ITPD not only established a proposed “standard” for BRT system implementation, but developed intensive lobby activities around the world to convince local governments to select BRT systems over rail-based transportation models (subways, light trains, etc.).

·     Contaminating effects and maintenance

Beside the potential conflict of interests, BRTs are being questioned worldwide because of their contaminating effects in the urban environment. Unlike electric-powered trains commonly used in MRTlight rail and subways, bus rapid transit often uses diesel- or gasoline-fueled engines. To reduce pollution some BRT systems, such as TransJakarta, use liquefied natural gas-fueled engines instead. Furthermore, the lifetime of individual buses is generally shorter than their rail-based counterparts, potentially making the BRT system more expensive to operate in the long term.

·   Failures and reversals

However, a principal criticism of BRT systems is that they may not accomplish their promise of an efficient, rapid flow of passengers along their dedicated bus lanes. The remarkable fiasco of Delhi‘s BRT and the increasing riots and spontaneous user demonstrations in Bogota raise doubts about the ability of BRTs to tackle issues such as the traffic jams induced by dedicated lanes. Overcrowded stations and BRT vehicles may fail to keep pace with increased ridership, and may eventually need to be replaced with high-capacity rail systems.

The lack of permanence of BRT has also been criticized, with some arguing that BRT systems can be used as an excuse to build roads that others later try to convert for use by non-BRT vehicles. Examples of this can be found in Delhi, where a BRT system was scrapped, and in Aspen, where drivers are lobbying the government to allow mixed-use traffic in former BRT lanes as of 2017.[64] Similarly, the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce has called for bus lanes to be scrapped in certain areas of the city “as an experiment.” Bangkok was also making plans to scrap a set of bus-only lanes, as of early 2017. This perceived lack of permanence has made BRT lines significantly less attractive to real estate developers than rail lines.

  • Though BRTS in Indian city Ahmedabad got its popularity but people have different story to tell, BRTS routes have eaten up space on the road, turning into a major traffic challenge and killing business of local traders. Traffic jams are daily occurrence turning commuting into the worst nightmare. Same reason compelled Government to stop BRTS in New Delhi.
  • Smart Cities Mission Mobility Projects for 20 cities initially:
  • Total Central and State Govt for 100 Smart Cities: $ 14.9 Billion
  • 20 Lighthouse Cities
  • Total Smart City Investment – $7.2 Billion
  • Integrated mobility projects as part of SCP – 214
  • Total budget committed to 214 projects – $1.78 Billion
  • 25% of budget for Mobility
  • NMT (Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure) – $390 Million
  • Mobility ICT/ITS Systems – $ 233 Million
  • Investment Average – $50/capita
  • Public Transportation – 62 projects at $500 million
  • Bus Systems – 28 projects at $200 Million
  • Physical Infrastructure – $133 Million
  • Bus related ICT/ITS Systems – $30 Million
  • Clean Fuel – $22 Million
  • BRTS based Transit Oriented Development proposed by Ahmedabad
  • Intermodal hubs proposed by Ahmedabad and Jaipur

Five Scales of Intervention

  • Physical Infrastructure Bus Stops, Bus Depots, Bus Terminals, BRT corridors, Priority Lanes
  • Rolling Stock /Vehicles
  • ITS/ICT Bus Priority Signaling, Smart Bus Shelters, Real-time Passenger Information Systems
  • Clean Fuel Technologies Electric Buses, Hybrid Buses
  • TOD

Failure or planned strategies of BRTS future is being implemented and coherently put into the proposals to let the smart cities speed up the process of implementing its pending BRTS plans.

So even the failure never seem to be any shattered dream of Urban transport infrastructure development and several procurement of buses and its ancillary components for ICT/IOT smart solutions making it intelligent transportation package with less investment through implementing already announced  BRTS projects as Smart Mobility projects.

From lighthouse 20 Smart Cities of Round 1, replication is being done for all other cities under Smart Cities Mission of Government of India.

Special thanks to NIUA- National Institute of Urban Affairs for their important contribution in Smart Cities Projects.

About Author:

“ Surya Dev Prakash is a young Indian Smart Cities Specialist, having expertise of several Management Consulting projects, 4 International Research papers in Smart Cities & have honorable mentions at several prestigious organizations for his talent & skills. You can approach him on +91 8743841659 and his email id- “


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Robert Brears

Author: Surya Dev Prakash

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