Bus Rapid Transport, which is mass transport based on lanes dedicated to buses, is something that has been proposed in India for a very long time but has never really worked.
Delhi abandoned its efforts a few months back under the current state government, after experimenting with it on one road for a few years. Pune has BRT and bus lanes, but that is also ridden with problems (no pun intended). Ahmedabad supposedly has a well-functioning BRT but the share of commuters using buses in that city is far below other cities.
There have been proposals to introduce BRT in Bangalore, and some flyovers on Outer Ring Road were designed with the express purpose of maintaining bus lanes. Nothing has come to fruition so far.
In most cases, the problem has been with selling the scheme to the people – a lane exclusively reserved for buses adversely affects people who use private transport. Even though the latter are not numerous (data from the census shows that a very small proportion of urban Indians use private cars for their daily commute), their voice and clout means that it is a hard sell.
In my opinion, the reason BRT has been a hard sell is because of the way it has been implemented and sold. One problem has been that it has been implemented on only a small number of roads, rather than enabling a dense network on which one can travel by bus quickly. The bigger problem has been implementing it on roads with low bus density, where the demarcated bus lane mostly appears empty while other lanes are clogged, giving incentives for motorists to cheat.
Instead, bus lanes should be demarcated only after bus density on the road has reached a certain density. There are several roads in Bangalore, for example, where buses already contribute to the lion’s share of traffic congestion (Nrupatunga Road, inner ring road in BTM layout and Hosur Road between Wilson Garden and Madivala come to mind – but there needs to be a more scientific study to identify such).
If such roads, with already existing high bus density, are chosen to mark off bus lanes, the bus lanes can be sold as a method to restrict all buses to one lane so that cars can move about freely on the rest of the road. While there might still be protests (thanks to such “reservation”), the fact that the reservation will not have much of an impact will mean that it is an easier sell.
Think about it! Meanwhile, here is a picture from Barcelona, which shows that even in supposedly rule-breaking Spain, bus lanes can work.