Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About BRT


The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has a new online "clearinghouse" of information on Bus Rapid Transit.

From the Mobilizing the Region blog:

The clearinghouse explains what bus rapid transit (BRT) is, how it
compares to other modes, how it can be implemented in suburban and
urban contexts, and how it can anchor transit-oriented development. The
clearinghouse will continue to be updated.

Earlier this month a new coalition called Communities
United for Transportation Equity
(COMMUTE!) called for expansion of New York’s BRT plans, and for electeds to support BRT through congestion pricing. Their effort was punctuated by a visit from Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, which is home to the TransMilenio system.

Check out the Bogotá StreetFilm to see BRT in action.

  • anon

    There is a whole lot left out of that chart. Like how many more people would ride the light rail versus BRT. Or where is a streetcar? They are much cheaper than LRT lines.

    for an opposing view

    Of course the big question is when will the country really fund the ten of billions needed to rebuild the transit system to what once had.

  • angeleno

    Part of what makes buses so apparently cheap is that the bus operating agency pushes the costs out onto various other agencies. For example, the MTA operates the buses, but they don’t pay for the concrete pads at bus stops, bus shelters, or even the bus stop signs themselves. That’s all the DOT’s job. And of course, buses have a much shorter lifespan than rail cars. An interesting question is how much it would cost to install streetcar tracks when the DOT repaves a street. Given the relatively cheap and light construction used in places like Portland, I imagine that it would be roughly equal to the cost of the rails themselves, which are not very expensive at all.

  • rlb

    Capitol costs are great, but recurring costs are what keep biting you in the ass. And when one considers that the oldest train cars are from the early 60’s while the oldest buses are from the early 90’s, and that you have 2 people moving approximately 1000 people as opposed to at most 100, one can imagine that in the long run BRT won’t really save you any money.

  • Louis

    Even Transmilineo is considering changing to light metro to add capacity. The joke here is that so many outer-borough and Manhattan bus lines could easily support streetcar or LRT corridors with the density that NYC has. Actually, it probably has too much density for BRT.


    Let’s get serious and build more rail. We have the money for a long-term investment, we don’t need to act like a 3rd world country, or a 2nd class world city.

  • I’ve been meaning to write something specific about BRT for quite some time now, and I finally did:


    So here’s my proposal to cut down on the “BRT” bait-and-switch. Let’s focus on the word “Rapid.” Rapid should mean something, and that something is “fast.” Fast may mean different things to different people, but I think for every project, the affected people should agree on how fast is fast, and anything below that is just not Bus Rapid Transit.

  • Capital costs of light rail are higher, but operating costs are lower:
    1) Much longer depreciable lives of light rail assets versus bus.
    2) Far lower energy cost per passenger mile
    3) No reliance on motor fuel
    4) Far greater capacity due to ability to couple rail cars together, resulting on lower direct labor cost per passenger mile
    5) Electric traction motors have less moving parts than IC engines, and therefore lower maintenance costs.
    6) Electric traction accelerates faster than internal combustion, resulting in better on-time performance and faster running times.

  • It all depends on what your definition of BRT is. If we are talking about dedicated lane real honest to betsy BRT, then the median costs are around 30 million or so. LA built dedicated lanes for about 23 million/mile, Cleveland for $23 million, Hartford is doing it for $55, Pittsburgh did it for over $50 in today’s dollars.

  • angeleno

    Some of the benefits listed above can be had by using trolleybuses. They also have electric motors and all the benefits that entails, and do have somewhat longer lifespans than buses, though still shorter than trains. The main benefits of rail come down to lower energy use, higher capacity due to longer vehicles and the ability to form trains, and perceived better quality because of the permanence of the route, as well as lower runnign costs of trains and cheaper maintenance of the running way.


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