Selection of Network
The system was aimed to be a response to the studied transport demand in the city and identification of critical nodes. The BRT network has connected important origins and destinations, transit points like railway stations, regional bus terminals, educational and industrial areas, residential and commercial hubs of the city and recreational zones. The idea was to increase mobility and accessibility to these points through a well connected network of BRT. The aim was to connect the busy public destinations and hence, while selecting roads along potential BRT corridor, the policy has been: ‘Connect busy places but avoid busy roads’. This has also effectively integrated the city across the east-west and north-south directions. The corridor also provides connectivity to the lower income housing areas and increases accessibility for the lower and middle income groups.
The total length planned in these two phases is 90kms out of which 35kms is already operational. By December 2010, 53kms would be operational while the rest five kms – which is to be an elevated road – would be carried forward to the second phase. By the end of March 2012 when the second phase ends, 85kms would be operational. And by the end of 2012, the entire project would be operational. Ridership is 70,000 which is to be extended in the future.
The selection of the corridors was done on the basis of the way people moved in major areas of activity and the spatial mobility patterns.
Since the BRTS was to be integrated within a hustling and intensely inhabited city, it was important to critically evaluate the routes. Ahmedabad has a well established ring and radial road network (five rings and 17 radials for a 460sq kms city). Most of the routes selected connect to the vital junctions of the city and are placed either on wide existing (Right of Way) ROWs or on secondary roads. This means that the corridor has been able to accommodate the BRTS treatment, integrate well within the existing infrastructure without any major land acquisition and contribute to ease the traffic in a significant way. It has been able to provide opportunities for improvements in land use and distribute growth more evenly within the city. Moreover, it has been implemented quickly and inexpensively and minimised land acquisition. Where it was required (between Danapith to Geeta Mandir, the major regional bus terminal), a unique way was worked out to pay compensation as per the current market value to the people who had their residences, offices and shops along the route. This led to a positive response from the owners and ensured their co-operation. New links were identified based on their feasibility and a new road was constructed instead of affecting the existing congested arteries to access ‘busy places’ by avoiding ‘busy roads’.
The stretch between Pirana to Shah-Alam that connects the western part with the eastern part of the city, was recently opened up for operations and has been well received by the citizens.
No transport system in Ahmedabad is considered complete if it does not address the issues of the compact, dense and heavily trafficked inner city. Connecting the inner city areas with BRT network meant creating bottlenecks on the already congested roads. Only in this case, an elevated route has been worked out as a solution. This route would also connect the main railway station to the system.
Area specific solutions
Special solutions were considered at following locations:
Kalupur railway station: The road accessing the main railway station in Kalupur has a very narrow RoW (24m and 16m) and a dense urban fabric around. This road is the primary access to the railway station, the inner city, and also has the wholesale fruit and vegetable markets alongside it. Thus, the road sees very high traffic and tends to get congested throughout the day. The congestion is especially high during evening peak hours. An at-grade solution was not feasible with the given situation. Hence, a grade separated treatment was considered to be the most suitable option. An option to elevate the mixed traffic was analysed. However, in this option, extra road space for mixed traffic wishing to access properties at grade had to be provided. This extra space meant that the RoW would have to be 30m which was not available on site. The other option was to elevate the bus way and retain the mixed traffic at grade. The elevated BRT would cut down on the delays due to criss-crossing, congestion and bottlenecks at junctions.
The elevated corridor will accommodate bus stations at various points along its length. For better connectivity of railway station with the BRT, the existing foot over bridges are connected to the bus stations. Various access points from ground level have also been provided for access to the elevated BRT corridor. It was chosen to be so in order to maintain reliability of the system, its speed, as well as security. These factors contribute towards its appeal, thus increasing its ridership.
Maninagar Railway Station: The Maninagar railway station, secondary to Kalupur railway station, caters to large passenger flows to and from suburban towns and cities like Vadodara and Surat. There are plans to upgrade the station to decongest the flows at Kalupur railway station. Apart from the railway station being the important destination, this location is also a commercial hub and a major residential area. Hence it was important to connect the BRT network to this part of the city but the constraint was the narrow roads that were only 24m wide. So, a one-way BRT route has been designed with a loop (3kms long) with stationsthat are less than 500m. apart and within the walkable distance.
Ahmedabad Janmarg is also a median type closed system. The median system occupies less space, is cost effective and easily integrates the bus flow with other flows at intersections. It ensures that the bus lane does not pose a problem for other users to access offices, homes, shops and smaller roads, and takes left turns which is a routine situation in Indian cities. Signals are provided at all crossovers to aid pedestrian movement. In the median system, the docking of the bus at the stations is on the driver’s side. This makes for easier and better docking.