Mark Huffer will be speaking on Bus Rapid Transit at our upcoming Advancing Mobility Summit on the Novemeber 4th at the Crowne Plaza.
When bus rapid transit (BRT) systems first started becoming popular in the U.S. a decade or so ago, no one could have predicted how they would change the landscape of how transit is provided. Technology advances and a renewed focus on the customer will change it yet again.
With enhanced stations, dedicated travel lanes, level (or near-level) boarding, and off-board fare payment, BRT represents a significant enhancement from traditional bus service, and BRT capital costs can be as little as $10 million per mile, depending on the type of system and length of the corridor. By comparison, rail project costs can exceed $100 million per mile. For less cost than a single rail mile, communities can offer a robust BRT line.
In a little over a decade, BRT has become a staple of the transit industry. While BRT has grown, technology advancements are poised to deliver new enhancements that will mean even more changes to BRT design and operations.
Particularly popular in many smaller and mid-sized cities and regions without a tradition of high transit ridership or rail transit options, BRT was viewed as a way to provide a significant upgrade in transit services in a cost-effective manner.
In the mid-2000s BRT operations existed in only a handful of cities. Today, you can find BRT throughout the country in cities and regions of all sizes. Even the largest metropolitan areas with large bus and rail systems are implementing BRT.
Cities currently adding or expanding their BRT systems include Kansas City, Mo.; Tulsa, Okla.; Jacksonville, Minn., Chicago, San Antonio, and many others. In cities where operational, BRT systems are well received and often achieve significant ridership.
BRT applications led the way to significant changes in vehicle design in the last decade, with doors that open on both sides and sleek body styling. The next major change involving BRT vehicles is likely to be associated with technology. Improved radar technology and GPS capabilities are likely to set the stage for precision docking at stations. This will allow transit operators to abandon rub rails or Kassel curbs in exchange for technology which produces much higher results, much more consistently.
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