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A bad week for BRT in Delhi

{Update: this blog now has a more recent - 22 April- posting on Delhi's BRT}

A backlash against BRT has been hitting Delhi.

Delhi's BRT, or High Capacity Bus System (HCBS) as it is often known in India, has been facing a barrage of vitriolic newspaper attacks. These have included quite vicious assaults on the credibility of IIT Delhi academics, Dinesh Mohan and Geetam Tiwari, who have championed and helped design the system (if you follow the link, click on 'urban transport').

Anti-BRT headlines have included:
  • 'Experts' order serial rape of Delhi roads (in the Pioneer)
  • Will somebody wake up to stop this HCBS madness? (Pioneer)
  • Buses Hog Space, Cars Squeezed Out (Times of India, Nov 16, 2007)
Unfortunately, it appears that these and similar attacks have now drawn a political response. Yesterday, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, was reported (somewhat triumphantly by the Times of India) to have halted further BRT development beyond the initial corridor's first phase. Other routes will apparently need to wait until the initial project proves its worth. It is under construction and due to open in August.

See here and here for other viewpoints, for some of the text of the articles mentioned above, and for some analysis of this media phenomenon.

A model of part of Delhi's initial BRT corridor by the IIT-Delhi team.

Delhi is not alone in its BRT troubles. For example, Jakarta's busways faced setbacks late in 2007, with several corridors forced to open to mixed traffic. This was a response to media uproar over congestion that was attributed to busway construction and a poor level of bus service on the most recently-opened corridors. A Jakarta Post article provides some background (cache version here). If you read Bahasa Indonesia then consult the Batavia Busway blog for more insight and updates.


  1. A highly dominating role for anti-bus - press
    This is probably a fight between the cars and the poor on the roads, in which the ToI / HT media speaks for the cars by proxy and the HCBS for the poor who can travel and have benefitted by it.
    This is not a new binary but if buses squeeze out car space then will the car users go on to Metro and leave the road space for the urban lower middle class and the poor, who need the subsidy which the Delhi Metro is already taking away? If the rationale is that all over the world public transport does not make profits or break even then does the bus system also deserve some of it...

  2. The traffic jams in March are nothing compared to the hell commuters are facing on the BRT Corridor now. There is no solution to the problem and the situation is going to get worse once a million Nanos hit Delhi’s streets.


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