03 February 2006

Battles Over the Future of Mass Transit in India

India's cities are struggling with rapid motorisation, increasing congestion and parking problems.

One response is a flurry of mass transit proposals. This is in line with India's new National Urban Transport Policy.

[By the way, see here for a critical review of the policy especially its mass transit aspects and its failure to consider seriously any restraint of private vehicle ownership (or even to slow growth in vehicle numbers).]

Delhi's Metro is operating and being expanded. Depending on who you listen to, it is a great success or an under-utilized white elephant.
Delhi had a BRT versus Metro debate but is now proceeding with a 'multi-modal' approach, with Metro, BRT, monorail and ordinary buses. The first corridor of Delhi's High Capacity Bus System (HCBS) has been approved supposedly but mysteriously keeps being delayed. Delhi has also approved a monorail project as a feeder to the Metro in certain areas.

Mumbai has long been trying to improve its very busy and heavily used suburban rail lines. It has more recently been debating elevated rail options, including monorail, 'skybus' and others.

Chennai (formerly
Madras) is currently debating monorail versus BRT.

Hyderbad has a metrorail project out for tender with bids coming in.

Bangalore has been fiercely debating various mass transit rail options for several years now but seems to have decided on Metro Rail.

Ahmedabad has reportedly approved a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), with technical assistance from ITDP.

There seem to be many others! I wonder how this will play out. For now Metro rail seems to have strong momentum, powerful interests behind it, and high-level support in governments. Can BRT prove itself the cost-effective option for many corridors? Can institutional arrangements be found to make BRT happen in South Asia?


Paul Barter said...

The news from Chennai about its monorail controversy has sparked a lively discussion over at the sustran-discuss list. See http://list.jca.apc.org/public/sustran-discuss/2006-February/thread.html under the threads, starting with "[sustran] Chennai monorail controversy"

Harish said...

I wonder what happened to this debate - my own hope is that they dropped the monorail option. I came across another post on this subject:
Public transport in Chennai - can we have more debate?