Providing quick, comfortable and affordable transport to the people of Ahmedabad, Janmarg or the city’s Bus Rapid Transport System is a wonderful case study of how to revolutionize urban transport. Adding to the list of laurels it has won, the United Nations (UN) has chosen Ahmedabad’s BRTS as a showcase project to demonstrate that addressing climate change is not a burden but an opportunity to improve the lives of the people.
Janmarg will be a Lighthouse Project as a part of the Momentum for Change Initiative, which was launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the 2011 Durban round of UN climate change negotiations. The Light House projects recognize the actions and progress, indicating a positive environment, transforming an impression of slow progress.
Writing about Janmarg, the website of the Momentum for Change Initiative notes:
“Janmarg is designed as a strategic intervention, to attract latent transit demand, improve air quality and help the city remain compact. Its salient features are: a closed BRT system with median bus stations; specially designed buses with right hand side doors and bus floor and bus station platform heights matching; a complete revamp of the right of way to include cycle tracks and pedestrian facilities; a commercial speed of 25 kp/h enabling faster commuting; and off board fare collection. Janmarg has made several innovations in the planning and designing of the system including a fully ‘pedestrian and transit’ only street section at one location and a one-way bus lane to manage narrow right of way. At a larger level, Janmarg has demonstrated that BRT system can work in India. The activity has become the backbone of public transportation in the city. Janmarg looked at other BRTS in cities around the world and adapted their best practices in the context of Ahmedabad.
It also notes the poor transport infrastructure in Ahmedabad earlier, which made the need for a transport system like Janmarg the need of the hour. Momentum for Change acknowledges the difference Janmarg has made in mitigating in impact of air pollution and creating an overall positive impact on urban development.
Janmarg a Catalyst in Rejuvenation of Ahmedabad, its Success Due to Positive Role Played by Citizens
Momentum for Change terms Janmarg as “catalyst in the rejuvenation of Ahmedabad.” It notes that the BRTS has reached under-served groups of the city and has played a great role in developing the city.
It also sees people participation as a big factor behind the success of Janmarg and notes the fact that the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation held regular press briefings and responded to suggestions and recommendations.
Janmarg: Transforming Ahmedabad’s Public Transit System
This recognition by the UN comes as a prestigious feather in Janmarg’s cap. Since October 2009, when Chief Minister Narendra Modi flagged of Janmarg, the system has been a catalyst in the city’s growth and has brought in a paradigm shift in the sphere of innovation in urban public transport across India.
Janmarg has some special features ranging from buses with GPS enabled facilities with 2 way voice days, Passenger Information System, e-ticketing and extensive application of Intelligent Transport System that make it a cut above the rest.
The bus stations are equipped with the latest technology and there are low floor buses with large central doors on both sides, making it accessible to people with special needs.
The transit system has done Gujarat extremely proud by winning several awards at the national and international level. In 2009 itself, the year when it was launched Janmarg was awarded the prize for ‘the best MRT project’ in the country. In 2010 it won the prestigious Sustainable Transport Award from the Transportation Research Board in Washington. In 2011 It was awarded National Award for ‘Excellence in the category of the best ITS project’ from the Government of India and in 2012 when Ahmedabad won the special mention in the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, Janmarg was one of the 3 projects listed as pioneering feats towards the city’s urban regeneration.
Development with a Care Towards Environment
Under the visionary leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, Gujarat has scaled glorious heights of development but at the same time taken every possible step to ensure that this development does not occur at the cost of degrading our environment.
Respect for the environment has been a part of our ethos for time immemorial and it has manifested itself in various ways under Shri Modi’s leadership in Gujarat. The BRTS is only one of the many examples that demonstrate Gujarat’s determination to ensure that prosperity and environmental protection go hand in hand.
Gujarat is among the 4 Governments in the world with a separate department for climate change. From the Asiatic Lions to our mangroves, the last decade has seen a qualitative difference in Gujarat’s diverse flora and fauna.
Shri Modi authored an inspiring book, ‘Convenient Action’ in which he wrote about how Gujarat has successfully responded to the challenge of climate change.
Janmarg a Part of a Larger Mission…
When Shri Modi assumed office in 2001 he realized the importance of an effective transport system for Ahmedabad, which is India’s 7th largest city and houses over 5 million people. This is when the idea of Janmarg came and today, under his guidance the BRTS is a universally hailed transport system touching the lives of the people. At the same time, it is doing its part in making the world a greener and cleaner place to live in.
Almost all leading international financial centres from London, Paris, New York have mass transit infrastructure in place and this is exactly what Shri Modi is seeking to achieve for Ahmedabad for which Janmarg is only the grand beginning.