During the previous century the public transit industry has struggled with mode and technology issues. Bus and rail have alternated in primacy as operating conditions and financial necessity have pressured operators to seek more cost-effective means of moving passengers. Federal, state, and local financial resources have been outstripped by candidate rapid transit projects, traffic congestion is a growing problem, and travel patterns are becoming increasingly dispersed. In seeking to fill the gap between conventional bus service and rail projects of all kinds, the transit industry in cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has placed renewed emphasis on the development of alternatives that reflect a return to the transportation system management approach. Equipped with new tools for improving operating and management productivity of highway and transit networks, transportation agencies are working cooperatively to simulate exclusive rights-of-way operations in mixed-traffic environments as well as meld the line-haul efficiencies of rail with the distribution flexibility of bus. These efforts are known collectively as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and as with any entity in its infancy, final appearances at maturity are far from certain.
Jarzab, James T., et al.
Characteristics of Bus Rapid Transit Projects: An Overview.
Journal of Public Transportation, 5 (2): 31-46.
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jpt/vol5/iss2/2