To Succeed, BRTs Need 'AYFs'

"Attractive young females" may be the bellwether of success on new public transit systems, according to a transit consultant who was in the Twin Cities to advise about a planned bus rapid transit line.

"It may not be politically correct to say so out loud, said Alan Hoffman, a San Diego-based consultant, 'but it's what I call the 'AYF Factor.' Attractive young females are the canary in the coal mine of public transit. They're sensitive to safety, and they want to be in a nice spot. If you draw them in, you are reaching a broad market. A whole lot of transit systems, when you look around, you notice certain populations are missing.'"

"He was addressing, in Eagan, dozens of officials involved in the creation of the Cedar Avenue bus rapid transit Corridor -- a project fast-forwarded by the Twin Cities' success in obtaining a major federal grant in competition with dozens of cities. More than two dozen new buses will be added to the corridor from Lakeville to Eagan and into town, and they should be running by 2010."

Full Story: For new rapid bus lines, much is riding on image



The benefits of LRT

It is true that the costs of LRT are less over time, given the number of riders that can board and the long term costs of maintaining the system. More importantly, the environmental benefits may well be substantially greater. One important component of any transit system to be successful is to run transit where the population is and, over time, increase densities along those transit lines. This often does not occur with bus lines because there is no assurance that the route wont change and, therefor, no incentive to pay the higher land costs.


What you say is true of BRT that just uses striped lanes. But BRT in the center of the street, with curbing to separate the bus lanes from the general lanes and with raised platforms for the stations, involves a very tangible investment that should assure developers that the route won't change.

Whether to start with BRT or LRT depends on initial ridership on the line. If there is not high enough initial ridership to justify LRT, then it is sensible to begin with BRT, build up ridership as there is more development along the BRT line, and convert to LRT when there is enough development and ridership to justify it.

Charles Siegel

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