Weighing BRT

This four-part blog from Wired gives a nuts-and-bolts look at bus rapid transit, using examples of planned systems, successful systems, and troubled systems.

2 minute read

September 25, 2007, 12:00 PM PDT

By Nate Berg

A comparison of a proposed San Francisco BRT lane and Bogotá, Colombia's successful system, from Part II:

"The Geary Blvd BRT project has been stagnant for the last few years, and no immediate improvements will be implemented soon. What, is sending a paint crew out to pen a double white line and a diamond so complicated? Three alternatives are under evaluation. One, which consists of a curb side bus lane, is useless, and transit advocates are questioning the reason for the proposition. Curbside bus lanes are usually blocked by double parked cars, cars making right turns, mail trucks, and drivers on the looking for parking. The most similar alternative to Bogotá's BRT system is a pair of bus lanes in the boulevard's median with sufficient room to build a third lane for express buses to pass the locals."

Part III looks at some of the issues cities are dealing with in their BRT systems:

"In recent years, there has been a surge of BRT projects throughout the United States. Bus rapid transit in America, though, has three easy ways of failing. Either the bus rapid transit attracts so many riders that the system has capacity issues, or the city fails to implement the BRT correctly, or the image associated with buses sticks in car driver's mind, dissuading them from considering transit (or a combination of the three)."

A conlcusion from Part IV:

"Rail wins the contest for being the quickest, most comfortable, and highest capacity carrying public transit mode. Bus rapid transit, which some transit agencies promote as "just like a train, but with tires," still does not compare to a subway or light rail in comfort or speed. As bus rapid transit becomes more popular as an immediate relief for high ridership transit corridors throughout North America, transit agencies should be aware of BRT's disadvantages in the long run and prepare for future implementation of a rail line."

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