Streetfilms: Curitiba, the Cradle of Bus Rapid Transit

Since adopting its master plan in 1968, Curitiba, Brazil has become a beacon for inventive urban planning and
public transportation. The city’s pioneering Bus Rapid Transit system inspired the implementation of BRT in many other cities, including TransMilenio in Bogotá, Colombia; Metrovia in Guayaquil, Ecuador; as well as the Orange Line in Los Angeles.

In this Streetfilm, former Curitiba mayor Jaime Lerner talks about the origins of his city’s BRT and the expansion that followed. Curitiba’s current planners also discuss how they’re improving the system to keep it modern and functioning at the
capacity of a typical subway system. The city is currently
experimenting with smart traffic lights to prioritize buses and with new passing lanes on the dedicated BRT routes. They’re even
constructing a new bus route that will run parallel to a linear park and 18km of bike
lanes.

  • Okay, so no mention of the fact that bids have gone out to dig up the oldest busway (north-south) and put in a subway with a greenway on top? You didn’t even have to link to my post.

  • oscarfrye

    imagine if nyc planners and politicians thought like this, instead of bending over backward to auto drivers

  • t

    What’s wrong with this picture? New York City is less advanced in its thinking about transportation policy and infrastructure than towns in Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. If the self-proclaimed greatest city on Earth can’t get its act together but these cities can, what hope is there?

  • EC

    Ah yes a spreadout city of 1.7 million shows New York the way to a bus utopia. I cant wait.

  • and as a spread out city of 16 million we are already far ahead of Curitiba in the sprawl department.

  • Angus, theyve been planning the Subway for as long as the BRT system has been around. I lived in Curitiba for 8 years, Ill believe it when I see it. Some American got a hold of the recent candidates use of the project to improve his campaign image and declared the end to BRT. That’s foolish.

    As the video shows, a brand new BRT line (green line) is opening this year on an old federal highway.

    Also, BRT naysayers forget a very important part of the curitiba system: different buses for different uses.

    Biarticulated (red) buses in exclusive ROW with tube boarding.
    Silver (direct) buses using tubes (with doors on the left) but using a mix of public and private ROW.
    Green intercity buses (urban rings) to connect the points.
    Yellow local buses to reach every area.
    White circular buses that visit all hospitals.
    Mini white bus that goes around downtown.

  • Jass, I’ve been reading the chatter about subways in Curitiba and I’m aware it’s been going on for a while, but the fact that this time they’ve actually put the project out to bid makes me think it’s more likely to happen. The fact that they’re putting in a new BRT line beforehand doesn’t say much about the subway project. It makes more sense to install a busway than a subway on an untested corridor where the development is not as dense.

    What was news to me when I read the article was that they’re not planning to construct the subway on a parallel right-of-way to one of the BRT lines and leave the BRT there. They’re planning to replace the BRT line with a subway and turn the BRT right-of-way into the cycle track that Caroline rightly observes should have been part of the project all along.

    The fact that the system includes all those different buses is valuable, but it’s not just “naysayers” that leave them out. BRT boosters like Walter Hook also seem to forget to mention them.

    Like many commenters on Streetsblog, I am for buses and for bus improvements. I’d be happy to see a whole slew of these Curitiba-style bus improvements. Just stop calling them “BRT,” or even worse, “a surface subway,” or any of the other bait-and-switch tactics, and I think we’ll all be happy.

  • But Angus, it IS BRT. They dont call the silver buses BRT, even though they have tube boarding. The biarticulated buses are as rapid transit as a rail line. I live in Boston now, and I would pay to get our green line (B branch) turned into BRT if it meant service like Curitiba. Heres a fun fact: in Boston, above ground, the light rail is limited to 6mph in most parts. Not average speed, max speed.

    Maybe I misunderstood you and youre against calling express service BRT. If so, then I agree. But the Curitiba biarticulated system is BRT and is better than light rail and as good as low service heavy rail. Of course, Ill take a 10 car automated subway any day if its available.

  • There is no BRT. There is only good or bad bus service. Sometimes (apparently including your neighborhood in Boston), good bus service can be better than bad streetcar service, but generally to get good bus service you have to pay as much as you would to get good rail service.

  • Then with your logic theres no rail rapid transit. Theres good rail and theres bad rail. To get good rail you have to pay many times as much than to get good bus service.

  • Well, yes, rail rapid transit is not a valid reason for differentiating things. The real questions are: given a particular mobility goal, how much does it cost to build a rail solution that meets that goal, and how much to build a bus solution that meets the same goal? And how much to maintain each system?

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