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‘The People’s Way’ in Ahmedabad

For an excellent case study of incredibly thoughtful and detail-oriented transportation planning — see a few of the details below — I recommend this dispatch by Meena Kadri, reporting from Ahmedabad, in the Indian state of Gujarat.

On board the buses the most applauded feature is the provision of at-grade boarding — a hallmark of the best BRT systems, whereby passengers enter and exit buses at raised station platforms, without having to climb or descend stairs. Not only does this improve accessibility for the elderly, challenged and very young; it’s also been hailed as a plus point by many saree-clad female passengers. The span of income groups using the service is immediately evident and signals one of the BRT’s biggest impacts in Ahmedabad. Even motorists are being lured by the efficiency of Janmarg. Raju Schroff, who owns a local factory, now takes the bus to work. As a result, he says, “My daily commuting time has been more than halved, and I arrive at work calm rather than hassled from being stuck in traffic.” Jagu Desai, a tribal laborer, affirms her appreciation of its speed and comfort, and she seems pleased that her views were as much of interest to me as Schroff’s. Voice announcements and LED displays in both Gujarati and English — also a new feature for public transport in the city — are appreciated by the diverse passengers. As bus operator Panchal Kirti reports: “Not only can deaf people watch and blind people listen but people who can’t read are not excluded from being informed. So everyone on board can relax till their destination is announced.”

Ahmedabad’s comprehensive planning has pushed well past the mere concept of BRT — right through to encouraging physical resilience and solidarity amongst bus operators. Driver Jintendra Patel recalls that the two-month training included daily yoga sessions. “Yoga helps maintain calm and focus while driving,” he says, “and it counters the back problems that develop from sitting for long periods.”

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 8:38 am and is filed under Cities, Commuting, Congestion, Roads, Traffic Engineering. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “‘The People’s Way’ in Ahmedabad”

  1. Peter Smith Says:

    ‘incredibly thoughtful and detail-oriented’?

    i’ve been reading BRT press releases for a couple of years now, and this is no different.

    how about some talk on how thoughtful planners were in making sure riders got air conditioning? oops.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_this-summer-don-t-expect-to-get-a-cool-ride-on-a-brts-bus-in-ahmedabad_1382503

    how about some talk about how much sulfur is going to fill the lunch of the children of Ahmedabad for decades to come — providing them with nice incurable cases of asthma?

    even if we don’t go to ‘opportunity costs’ of what these cities could have had instead of a BRTS, this is not ‘thoughtful analysis’ — it’s a simple press release, compliments of the many folks who will benefit from the road building, the bus building, the ever-increasing car-building, etc.

  2. Meena Kadri Says:

    As someone who has been visiting Ahmedabad for over 30 yeas (and lived there recently for two years) I feel that massive strides have been made in a far from perfect city. Have you had the chance to visit? I agree that it doesn’t solve all problems of which there are many facing any urban center in India. As the writer of the piece I can assure you that this was not a press release compliments of the folks you allege – I actually spent two weeks riding the buses and speaking to passengers, rickshaw drivers, car drivers, academics, planners, architects, drivers, landscapers, local body authorities then put together the article. I’m from New Zealand and have no vested interest in the system.

  3. Rajeev Lochan Sharma Says:

    I am not from Ahmedabad nor I have ever visited there, I write my few words about the traffic here in Delhi. I am little curious on the statement “sulfur is going to fill the lunch”. I would like to understand how is sulfur level going to increase if actually the number of vehicles on the roads decrease (taking the cue from “Raju Schroff, who owns a local factory, now takes the bus to work”)? Is there a study that says buses emit more sulfur than cars (considering the number of cars we will remove from the roads)? Your thoughts on the matter!

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