Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) – A sustainable mode of transport

Rapid transit is defined for the purposes of the review as mass transit services, which involve a substantial degree of collectivization or the combination of individual journeys into shared intercity links. It includes modes based on a specific fixed lane or the exclusive and separate use of a road lane potentially common to the user. It therefore includes separated or widely separated busways but excludes bus lanes and other forms of priority for buses with mixed traffic. The nature and extent of the secondary modes of access and egress to the main facility are considered part of the overall system. The review covers urban settlements of varying sizes and is not limited to the experience of megacities.

The fundamental requirement of mass transit in developing cities is that it moves large numbers of passengers quickly. In the absence of significant subsidies, this requires both low cost (thus low tariffs) and speed of operation. Speed ​​is key to ensuring its impact, which is why the term rapid transit is used in this review.

Thus, the MRTS is a sustainable transport system.

The article is full of attempts to categorize these modes. They can be classified according to:

  • Their technology (based on bus or rail) influences aspects of quality of service, capacity, ability to segment the market and cost.
  • The exclusivity of the right of way determines speed and reliability.
  • The difference in level allows new alignments, and strongly influences the cost.
  • Guidance can provide new opportunities for alignment and other impacts.
  • The operational possibilities can offer different qualities of service and flexibility.

I’ve reviewed the MRT systems that are currently operating in developing cities and categorized them by technology and degree of segregation, which translates broadly to level of service, capacity, and cost. Four generic forms of public transport currently exist. These are defined for use in this study as follows:

  • Busways – These are, unless otherwise specified, at ground level with horizontal protection from other traffic, often with priority over other traffic at junctions, which are signposted.
  • Light Rail Transit (LRT) – unless otherwise specified, at ground level, with similar horizontal protection.
  • Subways – they are completely separate, usually elevated or underground. It is the segregation that is essential to providing fast service and the technology that allows the transport of a large number of users.
  • Commuter rail network – these services are physically part of a larger rail network, usually at level and entirely separated by means of controlled level crossings.

I have limited the scope of my study to only two modes, namely Busways and Metros, and have discussed them in the literature section.


  • Unprecedented growth in personal vehicles – the population of a metropolitan city’s urban area grew 1.9 times in India from 1981 to 2001, but the number of motor vehicles grew 7.75 times during that mandate.
  • Growing Traffic Congestion – People in the urban area have experienced various traffic problems such as accidents, traffic jams and congestion on the road, due to the increase in population (travellers) and older transportation that are not effective.
  • Time Saving – As we know rail metro has faster speed and dedicated corridor as well, so it definitely takes less travel time than others
  • It can be calculated from the formula using different parameters like daily run of vehicles, speed in congested traffic and speed in decongested traffic.

According to the thought, there are mainly two types of path-based rapid transit systems, i.e., rail and bus. The bus rapid transit system is the bus-based rapid transit system. In addition, rail MRTS categorized into few types manually operated and fully automated, then manually operated are categorized as underground (metro), surface (commuter) and elevated (monorail), than underground or subway which can be run on the surface can also be divided into three types:-

  1. High-capacity rail transport system
  2. Medium-capacity rail transport system
  3. Light Rail Transit System

History of MRTS

The London Underground was the first rail-based underground or rapid transit system which started in January 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon. This system had a steam engine and a wooden cart. Although his idea came in 1830 but he got permission to start work in 1854. He had a declared great success in just two days as he carried 38000 passengers when it opened.

Then, in 1875, the first British Underground began with the Company, “The Metropolitan Railway from Constantinople to Galata Pera”.

In the United States, the oldest subway tunnel is in Boston (1897). New York City has the world’s longest 14.5 km long four-lane line.

The Madrid Metro was opened on October 17, 1919, which today is one of the largest metro systems in the world.

In 1924, the Barcelona metro started. Moscow is credited with the first metro-rail in the USSR, which opened in 1935. The Moscow Metro is today the busiest metro system in the world. After that, automated metro rails (without ATO) were launched.

Between Toronto, Montreal and Brazil, the metro started in 1954, 1966 and 1974 respectively. In Asia, Tokyo was the first city to open the metro (1927), and Osaka the second (1933). Later, Beijing (1969), Hong Kong (1974), Singapore, famous for its heavy rail system (1987), Taiwan (1996), Iran (1999), United Arab Emirates (2009) and Saudi Arabia ( 2011) were noted for use of the metro train.

MRTS in India

First metro rail in Kolkata Metro (1984), then Delhi (2002) and Gurugram (2013). After the success of these metros, many other cities are starting to work on building the MRTS system, like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, etc.

Metro systems are more reliable, comfortable and safer than road systems and reduce congestion on the roads. However, the planned systems in India show cost overruns and underutilization of capacity. The methodology and arguments used to justify these systems require in-depth analysis. A high capacity system does not necessarily generate high demand. Estimation of passenger demand for transit services should take into account the entire commuter journey, including access time. As we have seen, Delhi’s Farringdon rapid transit system has been continuously appreciated. Likewise, BRTS all over the world is appreciated. It minimizes travel time, GHG emissions, traffic accidents and fuel consumption.

The benefits of MRTS can be categorized as-

  • It requires 1/5th of energy per passenger-kilometre compared to the road transport system.
  • It causes less noise, no air pollution and environment-friendly transportation system.
  • It occupies no road space if underground and only about 2.60 meters in road width if elevated.
  • It reduces travel time.
  • It is a cost effective mass transportation system.
  • It reduces road transport problems.

(This article was co-authored by Er. Parveen Singh, Professor, RIMT Sonipat, and Ishfaq Majid Wani, M. Tech. student)

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