RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM FOR COLOMBO

Published : 8:37 am  May 12, 2016 | No comments so far |  |  (5022) reads | 

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BY DARSHANA SANJEEWA The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development said a new Rapid Transit System (RTS) would be introduced in Colombo spreading through the suburbs in Battaramulla, Kottawa, Malabe, Kaduwela and Kadawatha. The Ministry said that the proposed transit modes would provide easy access to the major attractions in the system. “Within the Colombo city, the existing passenger demand on almost all the roads and in the existing public bus transport service has been surpassed. Therefore, the traffic congestion is at its peak, where average travel speeds have come down to around 10-15 km/h on city roads,” the ministry said. The two main categories of the transit system are Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

The Ministry said the main cause for the selection of LRT preferably referred as “Light Metro” over monorail and BRT was its popularity corresponding to its versatility. “Light rail can run on all possible types of alignment such as elevated, at-grade, tunnelled, depending on the particular situation in a given area of a given city, such as cost, density, station spacing, ridership, etc. Moreover, the same line can be running on one type of alignment in one area of the city and on another type of alignment in another area of the same city depending on the possibility, according to the ministry.

A considerable portion can be accommodated at ground level while blended facilities such as depots and stations can be located at ground level, irrespective of the line being at ground level or elevated, will significantly truncate associated cost. It incurs lower operational costs as unlike for instance LRT does not pose switching issues. Although monorail is unable to expand as a network with crossings, LRT could be expanded. Plus there are more providers across the world, so the ministry could have the system at a very competitive rate with the best technology. It will ensure a higher quality service for everyone in terms of cost, time and safety. Introducing a new mode will help the rider to choose the most appropriate mode of transport based on his trip purpose and hence will increase the modal shift towards the public transportation, reducing the traffic congestion significantly. The Ministry said that all the major points in Colombo would be connected by the new system. The modern LRT system technology permits slender contemporary structural supports ensuring the aesthetic beauty of the urban context.

LRT technology proliferated everywhere in the world beginning in the late nineteenth century and continuing to the present day, while monorail systems remain few and far between, says a great deal about the relative versatility, suitability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. The number of cities in the world where monorails actually perform a general, practical urban transit function can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand and even there, it’s usually a singlepurpose, point-to-point operation. The problem with BRT is that it offers a marginal capacity increase from 10,000 PPHPD (Passengers per Hour per Direction) to 13,000 while nearly triple of it (30,000 PPHDP) can be achieved from a rail base mode.

The BRT system will draw its capacity crowd by 2025, resulting in the need for capacity increment by demolishing and replacement by another rail base mode questioning the sustainability of BRT. A similar contextual example is the Delhi BRT system which scraped away due to its unsuitability, resulting in increased pedestrian fatalities and road traffic congestion. The Ministry said that it does not aim at a temporary solution or an implementation failure but to guarantee the long term best fit for the context.

“The key to more public transit, a better urban quality of life and less environmental damage from roads is to get something built and running without delay. In the vast majority of cases such as Colombo and Western Region, that probably will be light rail, because that’s what fits best in lower-density, automobileoriented cities relative to all the identified demands a new “fixed guide way” system must meet” the ministry added.