Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is public transportation by bus that is intended to provide a faster more reliable and more comfortable journey for passengers than conventional bus services. It is intended to provide the passenger with ride quality equivalent to that of rail services but with lower construction and operating costs. In order to provide a faster journey time, road space is allocated to give priority to BRT vehicles, often via a combination of guideways and/or busways (e.g., a continuous conventional bus lane, or provision for trolley buses with over head wiring). Both allow for exclusive use of the road space by buses. Bus services running on guideways (often known as “Guided Buses”) employ advances in technology to achieve the ride quality of rail services, with guidewheels on the buses effectively “latching on” to the guideway and taking the steering away from the driver. However, merely providing a guideway does not imply a BRT system. Similarly, overhead wiring that allows trolley buses to operate does not make a BRT system on its own. A BRT system also requires bus priority at junctions, stop and station design more closely approximating those associated with rail travel, and other attributes of a high quality rapid service, e.g., real time information and a limited number of stops. It is also common for BRT systems to only operate on radial routes in and out of town and city centres. Given the fixed routes BRT systems operate over, it is also common for the system to include feeder services. Where the BRT system utilises trolley buses or other vehicles that can only operate on the BRT route (this might include articulated buses in some cities whose road networks cannot accommodate such vehicles in most places), separate bus services will link residential areas into the BRT network. Where a BRT system uses guided buses, which are conventional buses with the addition of guidewheels (i.e., they can operate anywhere in the town or city), several different buses services may use the guideway and integrate the ‘feeder service’ into the BRT service. Fro example a bus may make several stops within a residential area before joining the guideway and making a rapid journey in to the city centre.


Leeds Guided bus

According to Levinson et al (2003, p12) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is “a flexible, rubber-tired rapid-transit mode that combines stations, vehicles, services, running ways, and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) elements into an integrated system with a strong positive identity that evokes a unique image.”   Similarly, Wright and Hook have pointed out that BRT “is a high-quality bus based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable, and cost-effective urban mobility through the provision of segregated right-of-way infrastructure, rapid and frequent operations, and excellence in marketing and customer service.”  (Wright and Hook, 2007: p11).

Levinson et al (2003) give the following seven identifying characteristics of a bus system that constitute a BRT system (Table 1)

Table 1: Identifying Characteristics of Bus Rapid Transit Systems
Characteristic

Details

Dedicated running ways

BRT vehicles operate primarily in fast and exclusive busways but may also operate in general traffic. See bus priority.

Attractive stations and
bus stops

They range from enhanced shelters to large transit centres and are integrated into the communities that they serve or integrated with new developments
(See the related topic of Encouraging Public Transport Through Land Use Planning)

Distinctive easy-to-board vehicles

BRT uses rubber tyred vehicles which are easy to board for all segments of the population. Vehicles are also quiet and may operate with clean fuels.

Frequent all-day service

High frequency service implies low waiting times and no need to consult the schedules. Integration of local and feeder services reduces long distance travel times.
(See Public Transport Service Levels)

Route structure

BRT generally use simple colour  coded routes that can be laid out to provide non-transfer rides to multiple destinations.

Off-vehicle fare collection

Prepayment before boarding and multiple door boarding, reducing dwell time at stops.
(See Fare Structures)

Use of Intelligent Transport Systems
technologies

BRT uses advanced digital technologies that improve customer convenience, speed, reliability and operational safety. 
(See Real Time Passenger Information and Intelligent Transport Systems)

Source: Levinson et al (2003) p 13.

From Table 1, it is clear that BRT is intended to integrate all these component elements and technology to provide a high quality public transport package.  All these various elements are intended to reduce the total journey time associated with a bus journey and to provide an improved level of service over conventional bus services. Provision of individual elements on their own does not generally qualify the system as a Bus Rapid Transit (Wright and Hook, 2007).

Design of the right of way

There are two primary forms of providing the required level of segregation required for operation of the bus services:

  1. By means of providing an exclusive lane.
  2. By utilising Guided Bus Systems.

However the provision of bus lanes or guideways alone will not qualify the system as a BRT system.  Figure 1 shows the spectrum of BRT systems and the primary distinction between conventional bus services to a full BRT system.

Fig 01 
Figure 1: Quality Spectrum of BRT
Source: Wright and Hook (2007 p12)

Technology

In this summary of the technological options for guided bus systems, the focus is primarily on guided systems since information on bus lanes and bus ways can be found under a separate note on bus priorities.

Guided bus systems involve taking the steering of the bus off the bus and away from the bus driver for all or, more usually, part of the route. In doing so, they eliminate the need to allow for any lateral movement of the bus within a lane of traffic. A bus is generally approximately 2.5m wide, but a bus lane is usually 3.75m or even 4m wide to allow for this lateral movement. A guided bus system, therefore, provides opportunities to implement dedicated busways where road space is in short supply and, hence, where conventional bus lanes could be impractical. Depending upon the guidance technology used, systems may also provide opportunities to improve physical access to the bus by minimising the vertical and horizontal gaps between the bus stop and the bus. Some systems also provide for physical segregation from other traffic, making it impossible for other vehicles to block the guideway. They also provide for considerable flexibility in operations, in that a suitably adapted bus can travel on a guideway where this is available but can also travel on any other part of the road network as required.

Types of Guided Bus Systems

Whilst kerb guidance is the most commonly used system, there is a range of systems available or in development:

kerb guidance
Typical guideway

Kerb Guided Systems - to date, this is the most commonly used guidance technology. Specially equipped buses, with small 'guidewheels' positioned in front of the main front wheels, are guided along a track formed out of two vertical upstands (or kerbs), separated by the width of a bus axle (approximately 2.5m). On entering the track (or guideway), the guidewheels connect with the kerbs and guide the bus.

Automatic Electronic Guidance Systems - specially adapted buses may be guided electronically via underground cables which transmit signals to the vehicle (as with the electronically guided Mercedes service vehicles operating in the Channel Tunnel). However, a recent investigation of this form of guidance system raised a number of safety concerns (Bain, 2002).

Optical guidance - this is a more recent development in guidance technology and involves dashboard-mounted cameras, a video-monitoring system and a road- marking recognition system. Schemes are in operation in the Netherlands and Spain. 

Other guided bus systems include the Translohr vehicle, which uses two front rollers running on a central guideway to steer the vehicle, and Bombardier's low floor guided light tram, for which automatic vehicle guidance is effected via small metal wheels which run in a central groove in the pavement. However, in the two instances where guided light tram has been implemented - in Caen and Nancy - safety concerns regarding the transfer from automatic guidance to manual steering have arisen (Bain, 2002), and the technology has now been withdrawn.

There are two aspects to the technology of kerb guided bus: the guideway itself and the on-bus equipment. 

The guideway – With Kerb Guided Systems, the guideway has two tracks along which the bus' wheels run. These tracks are typically made from reinforced concrete as the wear resulting from the wheel path being exactly the same each and every time would erode other surfaces, eg tarmac, much more quickly. At the outer edge of each of the two tracks is a vertical kerb. The two kerbs provide the guidance to the bus and are set 2.6m apart from one another. A drainage channel of approximately 1.2m runs between the two tracks.

The on-bus equipment – With Kerb Guided Systems, the only equipment required to modify a standard bus, with standard steering, for operations along the guideway are the guidewheels. The guidewheels use 180mm solid rubber tyres and are positioned in front of the main front wheels of the bus. They are installed via a J beam which is bolted to the back of the front wheel assembly and protrude 5cm out from the edge of the bus on each side.


Why introduce Guided Bus?

Leeds Superbusway

Bus Rapid Transit is intended to improve the image of public transport bus services  by improving the quality of public transport provided. It attempts to accomplish this through a package of measures including the provision of partial or wholly dedicated running lanes, attractive bus interchange designs and stops, using buses that are comfortable and have a distinctive livery that are provided frequently. In addition, a wide variety of transport telematics (e.g. signal priority for buses) and off board fare collection are used to reduce the journey time for the bus journey. These measures are combined such that the capacity and the quality of service approaches that of rail based systems but at a capital cost that is usually much lower than that of constructing a brand new rail system (Wright and Hook, 2007).

One specific way BRT systems achieve their journey time savings is through the provision of dedicated busways using guidance systems. Guided Buses provide increased opportunities to implement dedicated busways where road space is in short supply and, hence, where conventional bus lanes could be impractical. This means that they are particularly well-suited to congested conditions, as they represent a means of increasing bus speeds and reliability for the minimum loss of road space to other vehicles. Two further reasons for implementing kerb guided bus systems, specifically, are that they provide opportunities to improve physical access to the bus by minimising the vertical and horizontal gaps between the bus and the kerb at the bus stop and that the physical segregation from other traffic provided by the kerbs means that it is impossible for other vehicles to block the guideway. In this way, kerb guided bus systems are 'self-enforcing', as opposed to interventions such as bus lanes Bus Priority and street running light rail which require some degree of police enforcement in order to protect the rights of way for the vehicles for which they are intended.

They also provide for considerable flexibility in operations, in that a suitably adapted bus can travel on a guideway where this is available but can also travel on any other part of the road network as required. This means that, in contrast to light rail, distributed access to the guided bus corridor can be provided easily in outer suburbs using the same vehicles. They are also very flexible in that guidance need only be provided where and when traffic conditions deem it appropriate. For example, guideways may be constructed at particular congestion 'hot spots' to allow suitably equipped buses to enter the guideway, advance to the front of a traffic queue, and then leave the guideway to re-enter the main traffic stream. This allows for incremental implementation, whereby self-contained, perhaps relatively short, sections of guideway may be constructed ready for use by suitably equipped vehicles straight away, rather than having to wait for a network of guideways to be constructed. This means that benefits can start occurring early on in the process. It also means that, as congestion becomes worse, or as it changes its location, new sections of guideway may be added relatively easily.

Demand impacts

The BRT system is intended to provide a high quality public transport alternative to car travel so they are likely to impact on the demand for travel by car, as people switch from car to guided bus, and by other forms of public transport, as people switch from lower quality public transport services to BRT. The attraction of public transport users from other, lower quality public transport on that, or other, corridors may, however, detract from the viability of those other services and result in a reduction in their supply. The extent to which BRT will draw its demand from car as opposed to from lower quality public transport services will depend on whether BRT is viewed as being on a par with existing bus services or more closely related to a rail service. This is an important question but one on which the answer is not yet clear.

The increased physical accessibility of BRT systems and kerb guided bus systems will provide new travel opportunities for people who have difficulties with conventional bus services (e.g., older people, disabled people, parents with buggies etc). These public transport quality enhancements are also likely to generate new public transport journeys. Hence, BRT will not only impact on the demand for car travel and the demand for other public transport travel, but will impact on the total demand for travel within the area.

Responses and situations
Response Reduction in road traffic Expected in situations
Where passengers set out slightly earlier or later to fit in with the more reliable bus timetable.
Where people living away from the guided bus corridor travel by car in order to use the service.
Where increased average bus speeds and reliability make travel to more distant destinations more attractive/feasible.
They might reduce the number of vehicle trips by car if the bus network is sufficient to cope with their travel needs.
Where travellers switch from car to guided bus.
This is a less likely response as the car might be used for other journeys.
Where the household decides that there are benefits from living closer to the guided bus corridor.
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

Demand responses
Response - 1st year 2-4 years 5 years 10+ years
-
  -
  Change job location
- Shop elsewhere
  Compress working week
- Trip chain
- Work from home
- Shop from home
  Ride share
- Public transport
- Walk/cycle
  -
  -
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Supply impacts

Bus Rapid Transit Systems have the effect of reallocating road space from general traffic to bus traffic at particular points in or along particular stretches of the road network. However, in order to provide additional priority to the buses, certain roads may become bus only streets along the routes of the network.

A guided bus service will tend to replace, or represent an enhancement to, existing bus services along the corridor in question. So again in this sense they do not necessarily increase the supply of buses within the affected corridor. However, by freeing up buses and their drivers from delay due to congested traffic conditions, they allow for a more efficient use of the bus fleet and driving crew. These efficiencies may then be passed on to the travelling public in the form of cost savings or service improvements, eg increased service frequencies along the route (or along other routes via redeployment of buses and drivers); alternatively, the efficiencies may be recycled within the bus operating company, eg in the form of higher wages.

Another way in which kerb guided bus systems affect supply is via their provision of step-free access on to and off the bus. In doing this, they increase the share of physically accessible public transport services within an area and, hence, change the nature of the public transport network.

Financing requirements

Bus rapid transit systems in general, and guided bus systems in particular, will tend to be considerably less expensive, in terms of capital costs, than rail-based systems, though operating costs for bus-based and rail based systems will tend to be relatively similar. A US study showed that the capital cost of constructing dedicated busways ranged from 7m dollars per mile to 55m dollars per mile, with an average cost of approximately 13m dollars per mile (General Accounting Office, 2001). Remembering that guideways will typically only be provided at certain key points along a bus route, a guideway can have a relatively significant impact at a relatively low cost. For example, some projects involve guideways along less than 10% of the bus route. For comparison, the same study showed an average cost for constructing a light rail line of 34m dollars per mile. In contrast with guided bus, a light rail line must be provided for the full length of the route.

Expected impact on key policy objectives

The diversion of car journeys to guided bus will contribute to economic efficiency, environmental and, to a lesser extent, safety objectives, whilst the new travel opportunities will contribute towards accessibility-related objectives and towards economic growth. The attraction of public transport users from other, lower quality services will represent benefits for those people switching, but any reduction in the supply of those other services will, at least partially, offset these benefits and may detract from accessibility-related objectives and economic growth.

Whilst guided bus systems are likely to have positive equity implications, since they offer a service which can be used by all, these benefits are limited to the corridors directly served, and any corresponding reduction in bus services may disadvantage certain groups of travellers.

The positive impacts of guided bus systems depend critically on their ability to attract patronage. As noted above, if guided bus is perceived by car users as a slightly improved bus it will be unlikely to contribute significantly to key objectives and will perform much as bus priority measures do. If it is seen as a higher quality service approaching that of rail, its impact will be much greater.

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  Time savings should be significant and reliability should be substantially improved but will depend upon an effective bus operator and the extent of traffic congestion on parts of the network where there is no guideway.
  An increased level of bus use will be associated with an increased level of pedestrian activity and any reduction in traffic congestion should have positive impacts.
  Reduced road traffic levels will have a positive impact, but the extent will be determined by the potential to attract motorists to switch to guided bus.
  BRT systems are designed to provide for increased mobility both for those with and without access to a car, and potentially provide particular benefits for those with physical access difficulties.
  Bus is a relatively more safe mode than car and the guidance technology adds to the safety of the bus.
  BRT systems will generate a proportion of totally new trips, some of which will be for purposes related to economic activity.
  Time savings should be significant and reliability should be substantially improved but will depend upon an effective bus operator and the extent of traffic congestion on parts of the network where there is no guideway or busway provided.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected impact on problems

Where they attract car-users, BRT systems have considerable potential to contribute to the alleviation of congestion-related and environmental problems; where they re-allocate road space away from the car there may also be some adverse impacts on congestion, though these should be less than in the case of light rail which requires more road space than does BRT. In addition, there may be some adverse impacts on community severance unless stringent efforts are made to assist people to cross the guideway, e.g. via the use of pedestrian controlled crossing facilities. Again, impacts will depend on the extent to which it is perceived as a slightly improved bus or as a higher quality service approaching that of rail.

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion-related delay

By allowing the bus to avoid key areas of congestion and by transfer of car journeys to guided bus, though there may be some attraction of previously suppressed car traffic if congestion falls notably.

Congestion-related unreliability

By allowing the bus to avoid key areas of congestion and by transfer of car journeys to guided bus, though there may be some attraction of previously suppressed car traffic if congestion falls notably.

Community severence

Whilst guided bus systems would usually be associated with infrastructure works to improve pedestrian conditions, including provision of additional road crossings, the kerbs on the guideway represent a barrier to lateral movement.

Visual intrusion

So long as design is sensitive to the surrounding environment.

Lack of amenity

-

Global warming

By reducing traffic-related CO2 emissions.

Local air pollution

By reducing emissions of NOx, particulates and other local pollutants from car traffic.

Noise

By reducing car traffic volumes.

Reduction of green space

Guideways will often be constructed on the green spaces at the edges of highways, eg grass verges or central reservations.

Damage to environmentally sensitive sites

-

Poor accessibility for those without a car and those with mobility impairments

By enhancing and providing easier access to the bus system.

Disproportionate disadvantaging of particular social or geographic groups

By enhancing and providing easier access to the bus system, though some may be disadvanted if bus services along corridors adjacent to the guided bus corridor become unviable and are withdrawn.

Number, severity and risk of accidents

By providing the bus with safe guidance and by reducing car traffic volumes.

Suppression of the potential for economic activity in the area

By improving an area's accessibility and by improving the efficiency of the local transport network.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected winners and losers

Winners and losers

Group

Winners/Losers

Comment

Large scale freight and commercial traffic

Re-allocation of road space in favour of the bus represents a loss of road space for freight and other traffic, though this may be offset if the effect of the guided bus system is to reduce congestion.

Small businesses

Generation of new trips may be associated with an increase in local economic activity.

High income car-users

Re-allocation of road space in favour of the bus represents a loss of road space for other traffic, though this may be offset if the effect of the guided bus system is to reduce congestion.
People with a low income People with lower incomes would tend to already be bus-users so would benefit from an improvement to bus services, though this may be eroded if the guided bus has premium fares or if it abstracts from bus services on adjacent corridors and make them less viable.

People with poor access to public transport

BRT systems would tend to be established along existing public transport corridors.

All existing public transport users

Existing public transport users along or near to the guided bus corridor will be affected in a number of different ways; some will enjoy access to faster, more reliable bus services, some may experience over-crowding on the service, some may Those people who live within easy walking distance of the guided bus corridor will enjoy an enahcned bus serviceexperience reductions in the level of competing bus services.

People living adjacent to the area targeted

People who live within walking distance of the guided bus corridor will enjoy access to the improved bus services, however the reduction in public transport use on parallel routes may lead to a reduction in the level of service on those parallel routes.

People making high value, important journeys

Any time savings resulting from reductions in congestion will be highly valued.
The average car user To the extent that car traffic is reduced, the average car-user may enjoy some improved journey times and journey time reliability.
= Weakest possible benefit = Strongest possible positive benefit
= Weakest possible negative benefit = Strongest possible negative benefit
= Neither wins nor loses

Barriers to implementation

Scale of barriers
Barrier Scale Comment
Legal There may be regulatory requirements specifying who can operate on busways.
Finance The costs of busways are greater than bus lanes, but much lower than other fixed track systems.
Governance Negotiation will be needed between the city and operators.
Political acceptability Politicians may experience opposition from those living and working alongside the busway.
Public and stakeholder acceptability Those living and working alongside the busway may object.
Technical feasibility There are still some technical complications in regulating which vehicles can use busways. In some cases specialised buses are used.
= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

Rede Integrada de Transporte, Curitiba, Brazil
MetrobúsQ, Quito, Ecuador
TransMilenio, Bogota Colombia
The Adelaide O-Bahn
Leeds Superbus - A61 (Scott Hall Road)

Rede Integrada de Transporte, Curitiba, Brazil

The information for this comes primarily from:
Frieberg (2000), Goodman et al (2006a,2006b) and Rabinovitch J (1992)

Context

Fig 02
Figure 2: Curitiba Brazil (http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/curitiba_city_map)

The bus system of Curitiba (Figure 2) in Brazil, exemplifies a model Bus Rapid Transit system. The BRT network is operated by URBS Urbanizacao de Curitiba) (http://www.urbs.curitiba.pr.gov.br). The buses run frequently - some as often as every 90 seconds - and reliably.  Commuters ride them in great numbers, and the stops are convenient, well-designed and comfortable.  Curitiba has one of the most heavily used, yet low-cost, transit systems in the world.  It offers many of the features of a subway system -- vehicle movements unimpeded by traffic signals and congestion, fare collection prior to boarding, quick passenger loading and unloading -- but it is above ground and visible. The visibility is also useful as a marketing tool for public transport.

Curitiba’s Master Plan integrated transportation with land use planning, with the latter as the driving force, and called for a cultural, social and economic transformation of the city.  It limited central area growth, while encouraging commercial growth along the transport arteries radiating out from the city centre.  The city’s central area was partly closed to vehicular traffic, and pedestrian streets were created. In addition, a strict street hierarchy (safeguarding rights of way for the current BRT) as well as politicians with strong commitment (in particular Jaime Lerner who has been considered by some to be the father of BRT) have contributed to the development of a showcase of BRT success. High-density residential and commercial development has been permitted within walking distance of stops, with much lower densities elsewhere in the city. The close co-ordination with land use has served to maximise the efficiency of the system and to ensure that stops serve well-developed, relatively high-density areas along five major structural transport corridors which are all dedicated busways (IEA, 2002) (see Figure 3).

Fig 03
Figure 3: The network of Rede Integrada de Transporte (5 main structural corridors shown in red) 
Source: URBS

Based on Master Planning, Curitiba’s bus system evolved in stages over the years since 1974 as phases of the Master Plan were implemented to arrive at its current form.  This bus system is composed of three complementary levels of services that basically include the feeder lines, express lines and inter-district routes.

  1. Feeder lines, which generally share the roads with other vehicles, are run through outlying neighbourhoods and are used to feed passengers into the express services.  This makes the system easily accessible to lower density areas.
  2. The express system then utilises dedicated bus lanes and features bi-articulated buses (see Figure 4), and transports large numbers of passengers to various locations along the structural corridors, thus operating much like a surface subway system. These stop at the “tube style” stops as shown in Figure 5a).
  3. The inter-district routes allow passengers to connect to the axis terminals of the express lines without entering the central city areas (primarily for radial movements).
Fig 04
Figure 4: Bi-Articulated Bus
(Source: URBS)
Fig 05
Figure 5a: Iconoclastic “Tube” Style Stops: (Source: URBS) (Note the ramp that allows the bus to “dock” for level boarding)

Figure 5b: Interior of “Tube” Style Stops (Source: URBS) (Note turnstile at far end admitting only passengers with a ticket)

This BRT service, first introduced in 1974 is characterised by several features that enable Curitiba’s bus service to approach the speed, efficiency, and reliability of a subway system:

  • integrated planning
  • exclusive bus lanes
  • signal priority for buses (it is the policy of the government to give priority to public transport)
  • pre-boarding fare collection (passengers now enter from the tube station at   an even level to the bus floor and pay their fares by tokens or in cash to an attendant at a turnstile when entering the tube station see Fig 5b)
  • level bus boarding from raised platforms in tube stops (see Figure 5a)
  • free transfers between lines
  • large capacity articulated and bi-articulated wide-door buses.

At present, the system carries over 532,000 passengers per day and has been extended to five busways with coverage of approximately 65km (Menckhoff (2005)).

Impacts on demand

Based on the results of a1991 traveller survey, it was estimated that the introduction of the BRT had caused a reduction of about 27 million car trips per year, and  28 % of BRT riders previously travelled by car). Compared to eight other Brazilian cities of its size, Curitiba uses about 30 percent less fuel per capita. This has also resulted in one of the lowest rates of ambient air pollution in the country. Today about 1,100 buses make 12,500 trips every day, serving more than 1.3 million passengers—50 times the number from 20 years ago. Eighty percent of travellers use the express or direct bus services (Goodman et al (2006a,b)).  This is quite remarkable since Curitibanos (residents of Curitiba) both have both a higher than average automobile ownership than the rest of Brazil (one car for every three people) and a significantly higher per capita income than the national average, yet around 70% percent of Curitiba’s commuters use public transport daily to travel to work. 

Impacts on supply

The effective capacity of the current system is around 12,500 passengers per hour per direction operated by a variety of different bus types (see Table 2). (Note that some estimates of actual operating capacities are higher.)

Table 2: Potential capacities of different bus services in Curitiba
Buses in Curitiba (maximum load per bus)

Potential Capacity (passengers per hour per direction)

Conventional bus on average street (80 passengers)

1000

Conventional bus on bus way (150 passengers)

1800

Double (Articulated) bus on bus way (150 passengers)

2500

Direct route with boarding tubes (110 passengers)

3200

Biarticulated bus on bus way with boarding tubes (270 passengers)

4000

Total Capacity of Bus System in Curitiba

12500

Source: Frieberg (2000)

Other impacts

The operation of bi-articulated buses might potentially pose a safety concern for cyclists although this does not appear to have been raised in the literature.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  The efficiency of the public transport system has increased substantially. This has also led to the reductions in car use which would also have contributed to an efficiency improvement.
  The reductions in car use will have contributed to a liveability improvement.
  The reductions in car use will have contributed to a reduction in environmental impacts.
  The fare for the system is low by Western standards and is fixed with unlimited transfers (approximately US$0.40). URBS operates a policy of cross subsidisation and wealthier travellers on the system who travel shorter distances subsidise those who travel further (generally the lower income groups) who reside around the periphery of Curitiba.
  There has been a reduction in accidents but the impact has not been quantified. The operation of biarticulated buses may have an impact on vulnerable road users such as cyclists although this is not cited in any sources.
  Efficiency improvements will support economic growth.
  Capital Cost of US$2.5m per km (Wright and Hook, 2007). Operating cost is not known but it is known that the system makes a profit and farebox revenue is sufficient to cover operating cost.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

MetrobúsQ, Quito, Ecuador

The information for this comes primarily from Levinson et al (2003)

Context

MetrobusQ or Sistema MetrobusQ (Metrobús de Quito) is a bus rapid transit system managed by the Empresa Metropolitana de Servicios y Administración del Transporte (EMSAT, http://www.emsat.gov.ec), the transportation agency of the municipality of the city of Quito, Pichincha Province, Ecuador (Figure 6).

Fig 06
Figure 6 (Left): Quito in Ecuador                  
Figure 7 (Right): City of Quito and its long linear form

History

The mountainous topography of Quito has constrained the city to grow in a linear form (Figure 7) approximately 30 kilometres in length and 3 to 5 kilometres in width. Prior to the introduction of BRT privately operated buses supplied all motorised public transport, with a fleet estimated informally at about 6,000 vehicles.  In 1992, the existing bus fleet average age was 15+ years. One environmental impact of this was high noise pollution. Also, because older, conventional diesel buses do not operate efficiently at altitude1, emissions were a severe impact. Environmental pollution is an important political issue because of its adverse impacts on people, on the fabric of historical landmarks (In 1978, UNESCO awarded Quito World Cultural Heritage status), and on the important tourism industry. In particular WHO listed Quito as on it's at risk list for cities with high pollution levels.

In the early to mid-1990s, standards of public transport were low, characterised by slow journey times, chaotic service levels, overcrowding, and as a result of controlled fares policies, lack of investment for bus fleet renewal. Improvement of public transport became a political imperative, and a “clean” system was sought in view of the city’s cultural heritage. Project planning for an integrated public transport system, of which the Quito Trolebusscheme along the major north-south corridor forms the key component, commenced in 1990 and became operational in 1996. Two other lines were added and the Trole line was extended in 2000. The network is shown in Figure 8 and Table 3 provides design details.

1 Quito is 2850 meters above sea level (the second highest administrative capital city in the world after La Paz in Bolivia

Fig 08
Figure 8: Network map of the Trole and Ecovia lines

Table 3: BRT Lines in Quito, Ecuador

 

Trole

Ecovía

Central-Norte

Year opened

1995, 2000

2003

2004

Length (km)

17

9

11

- of which segregated

90%

>95%

95%

+ extensions by 2006 (km)

+1

+4

+8

Number of terminals

3

2

4

Number of intermediate stops

28

16

24

Number of main-line buses

113

42

34

Number of integrated feeder buses

89

40

67

Commercial trunk-line speed (km/h)

15

17

20

Weekday passenger volume per day

240,000

55,000

73,000

Capital Infrastructure cost (million US$/km)

1.0

1.2

2.3

Source: Menckhoff (2005)

The Trole line runs mostly on a fully segregated busway, located in the middle of relatively wide avenues, and includes three major terminals permitting free transfers to/from feeder buses. It also passes through the historic city centre – included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List – which has an intricate system of streets that are rarely wider than two lanes. In this case, the bus way is discontinued and the buses run on bus only streets. Hence BRT demonstrates its flexibility, providing high-quality public transport access to an area that is more suitable for pedestrian movement than motor vehicles. However, this comes at the price of a somewhat restricted line-haul capacity (about 8,000 passengers per hour per direction) and a relatively low commercial bus speed (10 km/h in the central area, the main reason why the overall terminal-to-terminal speed is only 15 km/h).

Distinct from the other BRT systems in Latin America, the Trole line is government-owned and operated; the two more recent diesel-bus BRT lines are operated by private consortia under 12-year concessions. Unfortunately, there is no operational integration among the three lines at this stage, and passengers cannot transfer between them even though at two locations some lines pass through the same street. The current arrangements are the result of separate business negotiations with individual groups of private bus operators that had to be coaxed into collaborating with the BRT reform. Quito intends to address this lack of integration which is mostly due to institutional (rather than technical) reasons. All sixteen private bus companies that operate buses on these lines are earning an operating profit and are not subsidised by the government.

Fig 09
Fig 9: Metrobús de Quito

Note though that based on Figure 9, the infrastructure (given the barrier between lanes on the right of the picture) could be adding to a serious severance problem, which likely to have a negative impact on liveability, and social inclusion.

However the following Figure 10 shows also that some of the buses are able to dock (without guidance) very close to the kerb and allow for level boarding enhancing social inclusion especially for passengers with disabilities.

Fig 10 
Figure 10: Docking of a ramp for disabled users

Impacts on demand

The three lineshave surpassed predicted demand of 140,000 passengers/day by carrying an average of 170,000 passengers/day; such volumes have enabled operation and maintenance costs to be met by fare box revenues. With the extension of the Trolebus line to the southern part of the city, the volume is expected to increase to 230,000 passengers per day.

Impacts on supply

There was a total reorganisation of the bus system. In addition introduction of the busway system enhances the level of service to passengers by much increased operational hours compared to the pre-busway system, which terminated officially at 8.00 pm on weekdays. Currently the buses run till at least 00:30 am.
At the moment, unlicensed operators continue however to operate and there are incidents of incursion into the segregated bus lanes particularly by the police.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of Contribution Comment
  The efficiency of the public transport system has increased substantially. This has also led to the reductions in car use which would also have contributed to an efficiency improvement.
  The reductions in car use will have contributed to a liveability improvement. There is the possibility that stations in the centre of the bus way might pose as a severe barrier to movement.
 

The reductions in car use and reorganisation of the bus services to introduce the BRT system had contributed to a reduction in environmental impacts and protection of the city centre but it has not been quantified.

The Trole Line is also operated on hydro electric power and thus produces no emissions although it is not known why the other two later lines reverted to operating on diesel.
  Having ramps on vehicles implies greater access opportunities for passengers in wheelchairs and those with walking difficulties.
  Accidents have been reduced but there is no quantification of the extent of the reduction.
  Efficiency improvements will support economic growth.
 

The cost of implementation was approximately US$1m per km for Trole Line, US$ 1.2 m per km for Ecovia and US$2.3 m per km for Central-Norte.

Operating costs have not been reported but the operators make a profit.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

TransMilenio, Bogota Colombia

Context

Fig 11
Figure 11: TransMilenio Network 
(Source: http://www.transmilenio.gov.co/Images/MapaGeneralGrande.pdf)

TransMilenio (Figure 11) plays a crucial role in the development of BRT because this is the first application to a very dense capital city (240 habitants per hectare2) which demonstrates that BRT can provide the capacity to accommodate passenger throughputs approximating and even exceeding that which can be offered by light rail at a fraction of the cost (Sandoval and Hidalgo-Guerrer, 2004;  Hook, 2005; Cain et al 2006; Wright and Hook, 2007).

Bogotá is the capital of Colombia. Prior to the implementation of the BRT, the bus system comprised a wide range of bus types and services. The system resulted in some of the largest bus flows and congestion in the world; during rush hours, bus flows of over 1,000 buses/hour/direction were recorded on a single road. Improvements in public transport became a political imperative, and the Mayor Enrique Peñalosa Londoño adopted a policy with the following objectives as part of his mobility strategy:

  • to improve bus service quality to passengers,
  • to improve the environment by reducing bus-related emissions
  • to develop a more civilised city

Earlier in the history of Bogotá, metro and elevated highways were proposed but financing them proved to be difficult and innovative solutions had to be sought (Sandoval and Hidalgo-Guerrer, 2004). Amongst the elements implemented as part of the Mayor’s Mobility Strategy, the most important was BRT (known as the TransMilenio).

TRANSMILENIO SA (http://www.transmilenio.gov.co) is the governmental department owning and regulating the system. The services are contracted out via concessions to private operators and feeder service operators who are paid on the basis of vehicle kilometres operated. Table 4 describes the first two phases.

Table 4: TransMilenio BRT System in Bogotá, Colombia

 

Phase 1

Phase 2(a)

Phase 2(b)

Year opened

2000

2003

2005-06

Number of busways

4

1

2

Length (km)

42

13

29

- of which segregated

94%

100%

100%

Number of terminals and transfer stops

8

2

3

Number of standard stops

53

16

34

Number of main-line buses

470

137

198

Number of integrated feeder buses

235

146

Commercial speed (all-stop buses) (km/h)

21

23

n/a

Commercial speed (express buses) (km/h)

32

32

n/a

Weekday passenger volume

770,000

250,000

380,000

(Maximum) Passengers  per 3Peak-hour per directional4 

35,000

32,000

Infrastructure cost (million US$/km)

5.8

10.7

15.2

Source: Menckhoff (2005)

The fact that TransMilenio carries very high passenger volumes of up to 35,000 passengers per hour per direction (and exceeds the capacity of light rail systems) is due to a variety of system design features:

  • high capacity articulated vehicles (160 passengers) with multiple doors
  • high average bus occupancies (TransMilenio buses carry an average of 1,600 passengers per day)
  • exclusive busways unaffected by traffic congestion, with double lanes allowing express buses to overtake local buses (see Figure 12)
  • high capacity station design featuring level boarding and off-board fare payment (using smart card technology)
  • centralised control of bus operations, which coordinate local and express services, reduce bunching, and improve reliability
high service frequency (280 buses per hour per direction on busy trunk sections, resulting in a combined headway of 13 seconds at busy stops).

2 By comparison London has a density of approximately 60 inhabitants per hectare.
3 In the direction of the highest loading reported.
Cain et al (2006) gives a figure of 41,000 passengers per peak hour per direction and this was a figure for January 2006. The date for Menckhoff’s figures are not given.

Fig 12
Figure 12: Segregated Busway and Stop with passing lanes for buses that do not call at the stop
Source: TRANSMILLENIO SA

Impact on demand

TransMilenio has induced some shift to public transit. 9% of surveyed riders stated that before TransMilenio they made the same trip by private car. However, this is also due to car use restrictions (“Pico y placa”) where 40% of cars are banned from using roads in the peak periods (7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.) identified by the last number of the licence plate (Cain et al, 2006; Wright and Hook, 2007).

Impact on supply

TransMilenio Phase I, implemented between 1998 and 2002, consists of 41 Km of exclusive busways, 61 stations, 470 articulated buses and 235 feeder buses. This has therefore increased the supply of public transport dramatically. The system is currently under expansion for 40 additional km.  The longer term plan for the year 2020 is intended to provide a network such that 85% of the city area will be within 500 metres of the trunk system (Hidalgo-Guerrero, 2004).

Air quality impacts

When Phase 1 was introduced TransMilenio had a positive impact on air quality in the corridor resulting in 43% reduction in sulphur dioxide, an 18% reduction in nitrogen dioxide, and a 12% reduction in particulate matter (Cain et al 2006). However, for the city as a whole, particulate matter has increased by 12% and sulphur dioxide has increased by 15%, while nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone have been reduced.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of Contribution Comment
  The efficiency of the public transport system has increased substantially. This has also led to the reductions in car use which would also have contributed to an efficiency improvement.
  The reductions in car use will have contributed to a liveability improvement. However at grade median busways might have contributed to an increase in severance.
  Local air pollution has been improved.  Howver, there have yet to be city-wide impacts.
  Having ramps on vehicles implies greater access opportunities for passengers in wheelchairs and those with walking difficulties. There is some evidence to suggest that travel time savings have been greatest for the city’s lower-income groups who tend to be concentrated in the city periphery (Cain et al 2006).
  Data collected after TransMilenio Phase 1, suggests that the collisions on service corridors have fallen by 79% which has, in turn, dramatically reduced the number of injuries and fatalities (Cain et al 2006). There is no evidence from Phase 2.
  Efficiency improvements will support economic growth.
  Total operating revenues for 2005 were in the region of US$171.8m and the fare of approximately US$0.40 allows the service to run without operational subsidies (Cain et al 2006).
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

The Adelaide O-Bahn

Context

The O-Bahn in Adelaid was opened in 1986 and is the world's longest guided busway. It traces a 12km north-easterly route from 3km north of the centre of Adelaide out to a major regional shopping center at Modbury, 15 km from the city center. It is grade Separated from the road system and has only two intermediate stations so as to minimize travel time. Both intermediate stations are at locations where the corridor intersects major cross-town roads: at Paradise (9km from the city) and at Klemzig (6 km from the city). Park-and-ride facilities, with total parking for approximately 1000 cars, are provided at Modbury, Paradise and Klemzig. The system was opened in two stages, the first of which - between the city boundary and Paradise - commenced public operation in March 1986, with the full system then opening in August 1989.

Buses start their inbound journey at a suburban terminus, spend approximately a third of their journey on suburban streets, join the O-Bahn at either Modbury or Paradise for travel to the edge of the city; buses then leave the guideway and continue the 3km into the city centre along public roads, on which bus priority is provided. The O-Bahn group of services are privately operated under contract to the government by a single franchisee.

For more information see http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/guides/obahn.html

Impact on demand

Overall travel, journey length and destination

Before-and-after surveys, undertaken in 1985 and 1991, indicated that weekday public transport patronage in the O-Bahn corridor rose by 8.5 percent immediately following opening of the first stage and rose a further 9.4 percent immediately following opening of the second stage. In total, patronage increased by 22.2 percent over that whole period. It is estimated that, in 1991, public transport patronage on bus services in the O-Bahn service area were 50 percent higher than would have been the case without the O-Bahn.

Patronage on bus services using the O-Bahn remained broadly constant between 1991 and 1998, whilst patronage on the remainder of Adelaide's public transport system over this period has declined. In 1998 there were approximately 20,000 passenger trips on the 0-Bahn each weekday and it was estimated that about 20 percent of passenger trips on the O-Bahn use one of the three park and ride facilities.

Choice of mode

The final After survey, in 1991, indicated that 14 percent of users of the O-Bahn had previously been car drivers and 5 percent had been car passengers. The same survey indicated that 65 percent of O-Bahn users had previously been bus users, and 10 percent were new trips.

Time of travel

No impact recorded.

Route

The final After survey, in 1991, indicated that 6 percent of users of the O-Bahn had transferred from bus services in neighboring areas.

Impact on supply

Several bus routes enter the busway at Modbury and at Paradise. Average peak period headway between the Paradise interchange and the city is approximately 50-s, whilst in the daytime off-peak, a five minute headway is operated on the busway, with feeder buses serving the Modbury and Paradise interchanges on routes with less traffic. Headways during the late evening and weekends range between 12 and 15 mins, during which time extensive use is made of feeder services. Most services stop at both Paradise and Klemzig, though some services operate express.

Buses using the O-Bahn have travel times around 10 mins faster than when they used the arterial road system (on which considerable bus priority had been provided). Travel time between Modbury and the city is 22 mins on stopping services and 20 mins on express services. The bus fleet using the O-Bahn comprises approximately 110 buses, half of which are articulated.

Importantly, the O-Bahn represented a significant increase in public transport capacity within Adelaide. It is thought that the capacity of the O-Bahn is unlikely to ever be a constraint, as it has been estimated that with a 20-s headway and use of articulated vehicles an hourly capacity of 18,000 passengers in each direction could be provided.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of Contribution Comment
  The reduction in bus journey time and increases in bus patronage and capacity demonstrate an efficiency improvement in the operation of the bus service. Also, a significant transfer from private car to public transport has been observed. However, no comprehensive cost benefit analysis was conducted.
  Much of the busway is "off-street", nevertheless the route has been developed with a visually prominent environment with large forest trees, increased bird life, and a system of pedestrian and bicycle trails, resulting in an attractive corridor. In addition, traffic on local streets willhave decreased slightly.
  No specific assessment of environmental impact, though it is likely that there will have been some benefits in terms of the transfer from private car to public transport.
  Any improvement to public transport will tend to benefit lower income travellers as they tend to have a higher propensity to use public transport.
  This was not a key objective and no attempt was made to assess impacts. However, there have only been two accidents on the facility and no incidents for almost a decade.
  No specific assessment has been made but, by increasing the capacity of the corridor and facilitating more movement of people into the city centre, it might be expected that it has had a minor positive impact on city centre viability, as well as perhaps helping to develop Modbury as a suburban centre.
  The total cost of providing the O-Bahn was estimated as $63m US (in 1988 prices), two thirds of the cost of providing a comparable LRT system (all costs include allowances for rolling stock, physical contingencies, and design and supervision but exclude land acquisition) *. Operating costs are, on average, broadly similar to those for standard bus services.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

* Readers are cautioned against using the cost of the O-Bahn as a guide to the cost of constructing a guided busway in other circumstances. Three factors, in particular, increased the cost of the project:

  1. the highly expansive clay soil in the corridor;
  2. the large number of bridges resulting from location of the busway in a river corridor; and
  3. the development of a linear park together with the O-Bahn project.

Leeds Superbus - A61 (Scott Hall Road)

Context

The guided bus system on Scott Hall Road in Leeds, branded as Superbus, was launched in 1995. Scott Hall Road is a well-defined, radial corridor of dual carriageway status to the north of the city. Bus was not traditionally regarded as a significant mode along the corridor. In contrast with the O-Bahn in Adelaide which uses a continuous guideway along a wholly separate right of way, the Leeds scheme uses a series of relatively short stretches of guideway on or immediately adjacent to an existing road at particular points where traffic congestion occurs. The guideway was completed and opened in sections, the first of which opened for operation in September 1995 and the third and most recent of which opened in 1998.

Impact on demand

Overall travel, journey length and destination

The operator has recorded increases in patronage of over 75% and 50% reductions in peak journey time since the opening of the first section of the guideway in 1995 (Dark, 2001; and Bain, 2002), whilst patronage on other services has been in decline. However, only around 6% of passengers reported using the bus as a result of the guided bus facility. It appears that others have been prompted to do so when changing job or home (Daugherty and Balcombe, 1999).

Choice of mode

The operator estimates that between 10% and 20% of new passengers have shifted from car (Bain, 2002) and that this equates to approximately 500 car drivers per week (Firstgroup, 2000).

Daugherty and Balcombe found little direct evidence of a reduction in car use (Daugherty and Balcombe, 1999), but it may well be that those using the bus after changing job or home would previously have travelled by car.

Time of travel

There is no evidence of users changing the time at which they travel.

Route

There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that some passengers have diverted to the guided bus service on Scott Hall Road from nearby parallel bus corridors, perhaps abstracting from patronage on those parallel routes.

Impact on supply

It has been estimated that travel times were reduced by an average of 70 seconds over a 4km length, but some buses were faster than cars over the route. Furthermore, variability in bus journey times fell by 75% (Daugherty and Balcombe, 1999).

In addition to the guideway itself, the scheme included new state of the art accessible vehicles for operation of the service, special "tailor-made" information at stops, new shelters and a park and ride site towards the outer end of the route. Furthermore, in response to the increased patronage and reduced journey times experienced since the opening of the scheme, the operator has introduced a revised timetable with more frequent buses. Only minor adjustments were made to the vehicular capacity of the road, as guideway was only installed along a limited number of key sections of the route and some of these run along the central reservation. However, in contrast to the O-Bahn in Adelaide where the guideway represented an increase in public transport capacity without any reduction in road capacity for other traffic, the Leeds scheme has involved a slight reduction in road capacity for other traffic.

Contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  The reduction in bus journey time and increase in bus patronage demonstrate an efficiency improvement in the operation of the bus service. However, no comprehensive cost benefit analysis was conducted.
  The guideways have been accused of being unattractive - sometimes replacing former green space - and presenting a barrier to lateral movements.
  No explicit assessment has been undertaken but it is expected that the impact will have been minor.
  The up-grading of the service incorporated new, accessible vehicles with level boarding at bus stops; making the service accessible to disabled people and parents with prams. Furthermore, any improvement to public transport will tend to benefit lower income travellers as they tend to have a higher propensity to use public transport.
  This was not a key objective and no attempt was made to assess impacts. However, the guideway tends to be associated with higher levels of safety by virtue of it segregating the bus from the rest of the traffic.
  No specific assessment has been made but, by increasing the capacity of the corridor and facilitating more movement of people into the city centre, it might be expected that it has had a minor positive impact on city centre viability.
  The total capital cost of the scheme was approximately £4m, with an average cost of around £1.5m per route km. *
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

* The financing was via a Public Private Partnership (PPP) which involved First Leeds (the bus operator) who provided the new, high quality accessible guide-wheel equipped vehicles, Leeds City Council (the local highway authority) who provided the guideway and associated bus priority measures and Metro (the local public transport planning authority) who provided information, new shelters and stops.

Contribution to objectives and alleviation of problems
Objective Rede Integrada
de Transporte
MetrobúsQ TransMilenio Adelaide O-Bahn Leeds Superbus
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

 

Contribution to alleviation of key problems
Objective Rede Integrada
de Transporte
MetrobúsQ TransMilenio Adelaide O-Bahn Leeds Superbus
Congestion-related delay
Congestion-related unreliability
Community severance
Visual intrusion
Lack of amenity
Global warming
Local air pollution
Noise
Reduction of green space
Damage to environmentally sensitive sites
Poor accessibility for those without a car and those with mobility impairments
Disproportionate disadvantaging of particular social or geographic groups
Number, severity and risk of accidents
Suppression of the potential for economic activity in the area
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Appropriate contexts

Appropriate area-types
Area type Suitability
City centre
Dense inner suburb
Medium density outer suburb
Less dense outer suburb
District centre
Corridor
Small town
Tourist town
= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

Adverse side-effects

The main adverse side-effect is that the guideway can represent a barrier to movement.  That is, the kerbs may be of such a height as to make it difficult for pedestrians to cross the guideway and prevent vehicles from crossing the guideway (this latter aspect is also one of the advantages of guided bus systems as it avoids unauthorised vehicles obstructing the guideway).  Hence, guided bus systems are a little at odds with the pursuit of a barrier-free environment.  This is a major reason why they have not been introduced in city centres and why they have been deemed as least appropriate for introduction in city centres in the previous table.

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Proceedings of the Annual Meeting – Institute of Transportation Engineers 
Melbourne, Australia, August

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