Implementing bus rapid transit: A tale of two Indian cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, mode - bus rapid transit, planning - integration


BRT, Bus rapid transit, Implementation, Developing countries, India


The ongoing debate within the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) community over the relative importance of 'appropriate' design standards, the 'right' institutional setup and the need for 'political will' to the success of projects obscures the larger importance of the planning process to outcome effectiveness. Political leadership, institutions and design are important conditions that must be considered in the context of one another, but they are also conditions that will change and be influenced by the planning process. Drawing on case studies of Janmarg BRT in Ahmedabad, and the Delhi BRT in India's capital, we demonstrate the role of the planning process in influencing BRT project outcomes. The planning process is too often viewed as a sequence of steps in which design, institutions and leadership provide an unchanging framework in which planning proceeds. This ‘one-dimensional’ view needs be re-framed in ‘three-dimensions.’ It must explicitly also consider approach (i.e. strategy and tactics) and timing (i.e. both moment of action and duration). These in turn reshape design, institutions and leadership. Findings suggest that such a 'three-dimensional' planning process, when well timed, incremental and pragmatic may help to overcome institutional and design weaknesses, and to solidify political support. This improves viability and long-term system sustainability.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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