By Priyanka Vasudevan and Naresh Kuruba Mumbai | July 9, 2014
Urban bus services are a basic and traditional form of public transport (PT) in urban areas, providing services to cater the mobility needs of people. However, there is an increase in use of private vehicles, due to the lack of availability and accessibility of public transport, which in turn leads to serious problems such as traffic congestion and pollution. There is an urgent need to improve the performance of public transport system to encourage its use in urban areas. There are several indicators that can be used to assess the performance of PT systems, including the presence of organized public transport system, availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability, frequency, comfort, reliability, convenience, etc. This exercise adopted the operator’s perspective and focuses on the accessibility of bus services in Mumbai’s Island City.
BEST Operations in Mumbai’s Island City The Island City is the southern part of Mumbai, comprising of both residential and commercial uses. Bus operations are managed in Mumbai’s Island city by the Brihan Mumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) Undertaking. BEST manages a basic and traditional bus system, which has various types of buses including single deck, double deck, midi, mini and air-conditioned buses for operating ordinary, express and air-condition bus services. As per the city’s Comprehensive Transportation Study (CTS-2008), about 78% of the trips are made by public transport in Mumbai, of which 26% of trips are made through BEST services.
BEST currently operates a fleet size of 993 buses along 135 routes within the Island City (Monthly Statistical Review, Feb-2014). It uses seven depots and fifty terminals to operate these services. The graph below indicates the breakup of depot-wise routes.
Evaluating the availability and accessibility of BEST bus services in the Mumbai’s Island city has been calculated based on route coverage and service frequency. These two indicators are assessed against the standard set of public transport performance benchmarks or the Service Level Benchmarks (SLBs) framed by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Government of India.
Methodology The following methodology can be replicated in any other city. Utilizing geographic information system (GIS), this study assessed the accessibility of Mumbai’s Island City bus transport, by calculating the route coverage and frequencies. GIS is a basic planning tool for handling spatial data in digital format. This tool can be used for visualizing, managing, creating and analyzing spatial data.
Studying Route Coverage and Service Frequency
Assessing access of public transport services is calculated through various route influence areas or buffer zones. The 100 meter route buffer covers 47.8% of Island area and followed by 200 meter buffer, 300 meter buffer, 400 meter buffer and 500 meter buffer covers 72.4%, 84%, 89.7% and 93.2% respectively. The figure 3 indicate the bus route coverage area of the Mumbai’s Island city. As per the World Bank’s Urban Bus Toolkit, in an urban area, a walk of 500 meters is considered as a desirable distance for pedestrian’s to access public transport.
The exercise revealed that ninety-three percent of the Island city area is within a 500-m walk of a BEST bus route, indicating a very high level of area coverage. As per the MoUD’s SLBs, this translates into the highest level of service (LoS) or LoS 1.
The second parameter is calculated based on route coverage with various frequencies. The figure 4 shows the frequency wise route coverage area in Mumbai’s Island city. The frequency of bus service 10 minute or lower covers 74.9% of Island area and followed by 10 to15 minute of bus service covers 88.7% and more than 15 minute of bus service frequency covers 93.1% of the Island area. Approximately seventy-five percent of the Island City is covered with a service frequency of 10 minutes or lower, which means that BEST provides a high frequency service or LoS 2. This level of service also calculated with based on SLB’s by MoUD.
The exercise revealed that BEST bus services in the Island city have excellent route coverage and high service frequencies. As a way forward for this study, the next focus will be to evaluate city bus infrastructure and how it supports operational efficiency for BEST.
References (MMRDA), M. M. (2008). Comprehensive Transportation Study for Mumbai Metropolitan Region. India: LEA Associates. (BEST), T. B. (FEBRUARY 2014). Monthly Statistical Review (Part – II) On Bus Operation. Mumbai: Municipal Corpn. of Brihan Mumbai. (WB), T. W. (2006). Urban Bus Toolkit. Canada: The World Bank. (GoI), G. o. (2008). SLBs for Urban Transport- MoUD, Government of India. India: Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).