Why BRT Needs to Go Downtown

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is controversial all over the country. Controversy can often lead to compromises, such as mixing the buses into traffic. A recent article makes the case for overcoming controversy and committing to BRT in downtowns.
May 10, 2014, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"American cities that fail to extend true BRT through the downtown area ensure that the systems receive their greatest visibility in places where they experience their lowest effectiveness," writes Eric Jaffe. "The result can be to sour public opinion on BRT at large, making subsequent expansions — there or elsewhere around the country — all the more difficult."

The article cites the work of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) in establishing a global standard for BRT design. While BRT tends to find controversy because of the high premium on space in urban areas, "the problem is largely illusory," explains Jaffe. "In technical terms, any street 40-feet wide can handle BRT. Drivers and businesses often fear the loss of traffic lanes or parking and delivery areas, but traffic patterns and customers tend to find a way of rerouting themselves."

ITDP has also found evidence that BRT that runs into downtowns is much more likely to leverage transit oriented development.

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Published on Monday, May 5, 2014 in Atlantic Cities
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