What is the BRT?
In one line, a rapid movement corridor exclusive to buses along a busy road for the purpose of decongesting traffic.
Why do we need the BRT in Delhi?
Within 16 years, from 1991 to 2008, the number of vehicles in Delhi increased by 212% from 1.923 Million to over 6 Million. 21% of the land in Delhi is used up by roads and there is little scope of expansion. The Delhi Metro network needs major construction when compared with the BRT. Plus it can’t cover large areas like the buses can. Buses also carry a larger number of people. The BRT has the potential to improve the traffic conditions by reducing the number of cars and private transport on the streets. Public interest needs to be generated by communicating that BRT really can be affordable for commuters, especially now that fuel prices have gone up.
What’s the uproar about Delhi BRT?
There is a generally negative perception about the BRT and the media had almost labelled it a failure even before the trial run began. Some planning & implementation like lack of signage, lack of foot over bridges and underpasses exist. While the motorists and 2 wheelers fight for space, bus drivers and staff are not trained to optimally use the system.
Uplifting the drowning image of BRT
The Delhi BRT is a classic case of ineffective communication causing an uproar in media and amongst the masses. Had the media been managed better, the scrutiny and opposition could have been minimised, and the nature of the problem could have been toned down. There is a need to correct the image of BRT. The focus needs to shift towards its benefits. Delhiites, prefer private transport and the image of public transport is very low in people’s perception. As such, making people switch from private transport to buses will be difficult. However with the popularity of the metro, this mindset is changing and people are warming up to public transport. If the benefits of the new BRT projects are correctly communicated to the public from the very beginning, we can assure its success. While communicating, it is necessary to have a single spokesperson to cause confusion in the message.
The transport ministry’s PR officers have a number of issues to deal with and they need to start thinking macro! Internationally, the transport systems in metros are well integrated. Take the example of London,one of the busiest cities in the world, where the ‘oyster’ card can be swiped in buses as well as the ‘tube’. So it could be the card which needs to be marketed, along with its ease of use for commutersor the convenience of using public transport and join hands with DMRC for their advertising and marketing activities. The proposed campaigns can focus on using public transport for healthier living or highlight the safety measure for the commuters,thus making them feel safe in metros/busses and also the faster commute. In this jumble of silo messaging, the PR department forget the overarching message which has a much deeper impact in the lives of people.
Use of newspapers as a medium, especially in the vernacular, is crucial in building public opinion. There should be editorial articles the matter targeted at the commuters, testimonialstories on the BRT putting it in positive light and and mass media activities need to be undertaken. Schools are good places for awareness campaigns. The message can also be spread through RWAs about environmental benefits of using buses. Radio campaigns using catchy jingles can be used to urge people to try it. Radio can also be used to give runtime updates on the traffic at various parts of the city and on the availability of BRT buses on the corresponding routes. BRT routes can be integrated with GPS maps making people aware of this rapid transit system. Apart from relying on media, BRT authorities should also try communicating the concept through other mediums like BTL advertising and other controlled messaging. A 360 degree communication approach needs to be taken in this fast changing urban scenario of our national capital.