The BRTS will have Automatic Fare Collection System for off-board ticketing. There will also be a Ticket Office Terminal for issuing “contactless smart cards”

Anyone who has been to Indore even for a day knows that commuting in the city can be a nightmare.

The commercial capital of central India is growing fast — it is expected to house 2.79 million people by 2021. It is, in fact, one of the fastest growing Tier-II cities in the country, according to the Ministry of Urban Development.

It is also one of the five “demo cities” (besides Mysore, Pune, Naya Raipur and Pimpri-Chinchwad) under the Ministry’s Global Environment Facility- funded Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP).

In 2010, the city had 1.18 million vehicles, and with income levels rising, more private vehicles are being added. Each year, the city adds 10 per cent more.

The city’s growth story has brought with it traffic congestion, delay, accidents and suffocating pollution levels. In such a scenario, a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) seems like a good idea.

The BRTS project started in 2007 under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). It involves the participation of the Governments of India and Madhya Pradesh, and the World Bank.

Under the SUTP, the Global Environment Facility will fund the setting up of the GPS-enabled Intelligent Transport System (ITS) on the BRTS.

The ITS architecture will boast, among other high-tech features, of advance signal systems based on data-centric algorithms for emergency pre-emption and network surveillance with CCTV cameras. The SUTP also envisages support for the BRTS through two Traffic Signal Prioritisation and Automatic Fare Collection plans. These include traffic signal co-ordination with adaptive signal control and a centralised traffic control centre managing 46 traffic signals and priority for BRTS buses.

The BRTS will have Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS), which will facilitate off-board fare collection. There will also be a Ticket Office Terminal for issuing “contactless smart cards.” Under the AFCS, fares will be collected by a private company on behalf of Indore City Transport Services Ltd.

The company, under a 10-year contract, will be responsible for the supply, installation, maintenance and operation of the AFCS, besides providing the personnel required. A similar contract-based system is planned for the AFCS of BRTS-Ahmedabad.

While the completed BRTS will cover 106 km, connecting all major corridors in Indore, Phase-I of the project proposes three corridors: the AB Road pilot corridor, the Vijayanagar Chowraha-Ujjain Road junction and Ujjain Road junction-the Airport. The current Rs. 130-crore AB Road pilot corridor runs along 11.7 km and will cater to around 70,000 passengers daily.

“The Indore Development Authority followed a very innovative land acquisition system by offering extra Floor Area Ratio and Transfer of Development Rights instead of cash compensation to landowners. Land worth Rs. 250 crore has been acquired through these methods,” says Chandra Mauli Shukla, former CEO of the IDA, who was involved with the project till last month.

The corridor is expected to have 21 parking lots for commuters. At the current stage, the BRTS stands delayed by three years, and according to some estimates, by six years. “The most important reason… is religious encroachments, besides the slow release of funds from the Government of India,” says Mr. Shukla. The State government hopes to complete the pilot corridor before the end of this year, perhaps by September.