Evaluation of the Delhi bus corridor: lessons learnt and recommendations for improvement

Bus rapid transit (BRT) has extensive applications in South and North America, Europe and the Far East, but it is a novel concept for South Asia. One of the initial projects in India, the Delhi Bus Corridor, has been controversial: media outlets highlighted problems for the general traffic and safety, while user surveys showed improved perception by bus users, bicyclists and pedestrians. The discussion of the benefits and problems of the corridor has been mostly based in perceptions and prejudices. The authors conducted an independent evaluation to contribute with technical arguments to this discussion and to provide suggestions for the corridor improvement. The results were also intended to contribute to the understanding of the BRT concept in the Indian context. The authors conclude that the Delhi bus corridor has improved people mobility along the initial stretch, but requires significant performance, safety and overall quality enhancements. The project only comprised major changes in infrastructure but lacked of integrated implementation of service plans, technologies and operations. User and community education was also insufficient. In addition to ongoing improvements, the authors identified the need to: i) establish a quality improvement program measuring the system performance, ii) focus on improving reliability and comfort; and iii) reevaluate the bus service plans to provide a better match of the supply and demand. The authors also recommend using median bus lanes with strong segregation as the preferred option for bus priority in Delhi. The bus corridor in Delhi provides invaluable experience for the enhancement of transit facilities and services in India and beyond.