Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) presents a significant opportunity for the public transit industry to enhance the set of transportation investment options that can be brought to bear on the mobility problems experienced by urban areas across the country. As new Census data are released, the picture of strong population growth in dispersed patterns, growing congestion levels, and stubbornly modest transit use levels emerges. This paints a compelling picture that merits serious consideration by transportation planners with regard to the full range of transportation investment options available for urban areas. This article addresses several specific characteristics of BRT that differentiate it from other public transit modes and supports the explicit consideration of BRT as an alternative in Major Investment Studies (MIS). Clearly, the high cost of rail transit limits the possible role it can play in urban mobility even under radical changes in modal spending priorities. The pursuit of more moderate costing infrastructure transit options increases the chances of public transit being able to make more meaningful contributions to urban mobility. A key characteristic of BRT is the prospect that it can offer a lower-cost method of providing better performing public transit service (not yet fully verified) that is able to both retain current and attract new customers as well as garner political and taxpayer support. Evidence provided by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) in its recent report on BRT indicated that the BRT projects reviewed cost less to build than the light rail transit (LRT) projects reviewed, on a permile basis. In addition, the GAO also points out that ridership was comparable between the BRT and LRT systems reviewed and that five of the six BRT projects had higher overall system operating speeds than the LRT projects. This article also addresses the definition of BRT and the implications of the various definitions on branding of the mode. An interesting perspective on the BRT branding is offered by looking at it from the perspective of various user groups. In addition, the article explores the prospects of BRT becoming attractive to the public transit industry and with customers, decision-makers, and taxpayers. It continues by addressing certain aspects of BRT that differentiate it from LRT and the comparative impacts on land use by BRT and LRT. The article concludes by offering thoughts regarding the opportunities presented by BRT concept.
Polzin, Steven E & Baltes, Michael R.
Bus Rapid Transit: A Viable Alternative?.
Journal of Public Transportation, 5 (2): 47-69.
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jpt/vol5/iss2/3