1 Strategy and Planning

The toolkit for HCBRT Strategy is the first stage in conceptualising city mass transit and should develop the concept set out within the Master Plan, City Development Plan (CDP), Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP), or Comprehensive Traffic and Transport Study (CTTS).

There are four fundamental components of the Toolkit for HCBRT Strategy: (i) Introduction to Bus Priority Measures; (ii) Comparison of Bus Only Lane, and BRTs; (iii) Cases where BOL can be Recommended; (iv) Advantages of HCBRT; (v) Strategic Options for the Use of HCBRT; and (vi) Selection of HCBRT Corridors.

Introduction to Bus Priority Measures

There are many forms of bus priority available to transport planners, according to the size, needs and structure of the city. Essentially, any form of transit that uses buses and offers a faster service is a form of Bus Rapid Transit. As such, it is convenient to differentiate at this stage between some of the most frequently used systems options available to cities in India.

The scarcest resource in any city for public transport is road space. Thus the most important political decision that can be made is to dedicate road space to public transport – normally in the form of busways or Bus Only Lanes (BOLs). For smaller cities this may be sufficient for a radical improvement at critical bottlenecks.

When bus flows along long stretches of busway reach a certain level, however, the operation of the space becomes inefficient and an upgrade to HCBRT may be necessary. For longer stretches of busway in larger cities the adoption of a busway in the hope of improving services – and publicly promoted as BRT – may result in inefficient and poor quality operations. These issues are covered in the section of FAQs and in more detail in Annex 6.

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Comparison of Bus Only Lane, and BRTs

As discussed above BRT is a system that consists of various components of technology and operation. Implementation of such a system, however, raises a number of issues, and it may require modification to its system components responding to local context. The table below shows a comparison of system characteristics for Bus Only Lane and BRT systems.

Table 1 Comparison of Bus Only Lane (BOL), Light BRT, BRT, and HCBRT

System Element Bus Only Lane (BOL) Light BRT Medium Capacity BRT High Capacity BRT
Level of Segregation Limited Significant Full Full
Overtaking Lane at bus stops No No No Yes
Stations Characteristics Basic Shelter & Signage Curbside Location, Level Boarding, Passenger Information Median Location, Level Boarding, Passenger Information Onboard Median, Passenger Info, Additional Safety & Security Features*
User Information Provided at Stops Provided at Stations Provided Station and Onboard Provided Station and Onboard
Fare Payment On Board On Board Pre Boarding Pre Boarding
Ticketing Media Paper Paper or Smartcard Smartcard Smartcard
System of Operation (Closed or Open) Open Open Open / Closed Closed
System-wide Operations Plan No/ Multi Operators No/ Multi Operators Yes/Single Operator Yes/Single Operator
Feeder Bus Routes None None Some Feeder Buses Multiple Feeder Buses
Vehicle Type Mixed Semi-Low Floor/Low Floor Semi-Low Floor/Low Floor Semi-low Floor/Low Floor, Articulated Buses
Services Regular Regular Regular + Premium Regular + Premium
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Cases where BOL can be Recommended

A single lane busway carries about 7000 pphpd (Tehran, Taipei, Kunming), while a three-lane busway can carry about 12,500 pphpd (Seoul). Bus only lanes, however, are limited in the number of routes that can be efficiently handled: the higher the number of bus routes, the more complicated and the longer passenger boarding takes. The longer the waiting times, the larger the platform area required. This indicates that BOL can be recommended in the following two cases:

a. One lane busway (4 meters for a single lane) is available and the passenger demand is below 6,000 pphpd; and

b. Multiple lane busways (7 meters for two lanes, or 10.5 meters for three lanes) are available and the passenger demand exceeds 6,000, but is below 12,500 pphpd.

Whilst certain technology can work well at low levels of passenger demand, substantial problems can arise as passenger flows increase beyond the capacity of the particular technology. For example, a situation may arise where too many conventional bus units make use of a busway, thus rendering it inefficient, or the system of fare payment on the bus cannot cope with the increasing number of passengers, even with smartcard technology (Annex 6 examines in more detail the limitations of more conventional bus priority measures). At this stage, the benefits of HCBRT should be seriously considered.

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Advantages of HCBRT

HCBRT is a specialized form of bus priority designed to meet high level of passenger demand by incorporating aspects of mass transit. Its key attribute are:

  • exclusive lanes on the trunk routes;
  • pre-boarding payment for the trunk units;
  • single system operator for revenues and payments – multiple bus operators with common ticketing;
  • closed system on the trunk route busways and at terminals and stations; and
  • high capacity buses on the trunk routes.

HCBRT systems that include the rationalization of routes into trunk and feeder services can carry a higher number of passengers for the same width of busways. A seven meter HCBRT lane in Curitiba, for example, handles 15,000 pphpd, and the three-lane HCBRT busway currently being built in Curitiba is expected to handle more than 20,000 pphpd. Bogotá, with four HCBRT lanes can reach 35,000 pphpd. Consequently, an HCBRT system can effectively accommodate almost twice the volume of bus only lanes.

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Strategic Options for the Use of HCBRT

Within the Transport Master Plan, the use of HCBRT may already have been considered. As a guideline, typical rationale for the introduction of BRT are given in Table 2.

Table 2 Rationale for Introducing HCBRT

Strategic Rationale Description Advantages / Disadvantages
(1) To Build a Mass Transit Corridor and Associated Road Network Structure. A HCBRT corridor can either be newly constructed (so that the new infrastructure does not have a negative impact on the function or traffic of the arterial corridor – such was the case of the Beijing HCBRT and in the Western Corridor of Curitiba), or retrofitted onto the existing road network. The latter case requires that there should be either grade-separation of junctions or a suitable secondary road network that can absorb the displaced traffic – not just in terms of capacity, but also any turning movements affected. If the corridor in question has a population density of less than 25–40 inhabitants per hectare, then it tends to be difficult to consolidate the demand that can justify Mass Transit. The very high average population density of most medium sized Indian cities is considered to be well above this required minimum. Advantages:
  • Rapidly promotes PT on main corridors – although capacity is limited to 15k/h/d
  • Costs vary according to complexity, but grade separation implies higher costs, say, US$6m/km
  • Negative Image if traffic congestion increases/banned turns
  • Lower speed due to traffic signals and junctions
  • Many competing bus routes
(2) To Complement an Extension of the Metro. The Guidelines obtained from the International case-studies reveal that for large Mega Cities, the Mass Transit System tends to make use of both Metro/Rail and HCBRT, often with HCBRT as an extension of the Metro – or pre-Metro. Typical example of this can be seen in the Metro extensions of Mexico City and Sao Paulo (Brazil). Advantages:
  • Quick execution: 1 year to design, build and operate
  • Low cost: about 3–5US$m/km
  • Flexible: headways can be from 1–10min
  • Low Traffic Impact (in new zones or when purpose built)
  • Brings High Quality Mass Transit and adds value to new development
  • Increases Metro Revenue
  • Positive Image
  • New Franchise with little existing competition from existing services
  • Does not cater to immediate short-term corridor demand
(3) For Transit Orientated Development –TOD This is a question that has long been understood in Metro projects and is now being applied to HCBRT. If the city needs to enhance the development of a specific corridor or zone, then the use of HCBRT – rather than just ordinary buses – can provide an essential stimulus. HCBRT is especially suited to this role as costs (capital and operational) are closely linked to demand and the demand handled can vary by a factor of 10 (a twelve meter unit operating at six minute headways or articulated units at one minute headways).
(4) To Promote Regional Integration HCBRT is often used – as are other mass transit modes – as a means to promote regional integration. This does not imply only physical access, but in cities with lower income populations located on their outskirts also includes fare integration between modes, with some cross subsidy between the shorter trips from wealthier zones offsetting the costs of longer trips.
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Selection of HCBRT Corridors

The work flow below provides guidelines on the logical sequence for selecting viable corridors for HCBRT development.

Figure 2 Work Flow for Selection of HCBRT Corridors

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