BRT & Roadway Expansion

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BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)
Case Studies in BRT  
BRT Center

A BRT of great success is LAís recently inaugurated Metro Rapid Bus on Wilshire Boulevard. It cost less than $10 Million By Nov.2001 ridership was over 100,000 and they added 9 more buses. Its cost per new rider is under $0.60! It operates at 2-3 minute intervals during peak period. The traffic lights are sequenced on the bus traffic.

These 100,000 trips are over 4 times the combined current ridership of BARTís Dublin/Pleasanton and West Pittsburg/Baypoint extensions, which have been in operation 3 years and together cost the public over $1.1 Billion or 110 times more.

BRT elements are now just beginning to be considered as an alternative.

It has been employed since the 1970s in South America, handling 25,000 trips per hour, equivalent to 12 freeway lanes but on a two-lane busway. They even exceed most of our Metro lines and exceeds all light rail lines.

Curitiba, Brazil has perfected a busway system network, where fare is pre-paid, to shorten trip time.
Santiago, Chile with serious air pollution conditions provides multi-bus lanes on several major streets, some having up to four lanes for buses and only two lanes for autos.
Bogota, Columbia has 2 lane Busways carrying 620,000 daily.

The cost of BRTs varies considerably because there are various BRT elements one can incorporate with the ultimate being a guided busway, but Curitiba with good integrated planning installed their busway at less than 5% of what most Metro systems cost.. Even the guided busway will still be far less costly than a Metro like BART.

UC Professor Cervero, an expert on transit and land use, considers Busways as the most cost effective form of rapid transit. He cites Ottawaís Busway as being the most cost effective transit system in North America. This busway began as an 11 mile system and almost overnight carried 200,000 per day. During peak hours, riders are picked up in their neighborhood and without requiring riders to transfer when the bus enters the busway it express delivers them to the work center.

It has a grade separated Busway over most of its routes, with many elaborate glass enclosed stations. It still cost 2/3 of a LRT. It handles 200,000 trips per day to major destinations along the Busway like Schools, University, Train Terminal, City Center and Government Offices and operates similar to Pittsburgh.  From each direction into central Ottawa the Busway each carries about 100,000 trips.  BART has 5 lines and not a single BART line carries 100,000 trips today.

Ottawa has exploited the nexus of land use and transit. Since most stations do not have parking, the areas around stations are readily developable, so Ottawa has attracted over 4 times the Busway's construction cost with TODs around stations in a short period of 5 years. Transit service is so convenient that 40% of Ottawans commute using public transit.  Prof. Cervero considers Ottawa's Busway the most cost effective transit project in North America.

Rubber-tired transit on roadway lanes is, in nearly all cases, more cost-effective, more flexible, and enables a higher level of service to riders than rail

Freeway Expansion works, of course
Despite rhetoric that suggests that roadway expansion is too expensive or infeasible:-

  • Houston and Phoenix have successfully reduced traffic congestion through sufficient expansion of their freeway systems, and are the only urbanized areas to have accomplished such a reduction between 1982 and 1996. This does not require the return to the neighborhood-destroying highway construction that was associated with urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. For example, some European cities are building "metroroute" auto-only freeway tunnels to alleviate traffic congestion. For example, Paris, with the western world's most intensely developed urban rail system, will build 60 miles of under city tunnels to alleviate traffic congestion.
  • Traffic bottlenecks should be removed. For example, in some cities the number of through lanes is substantially reduced through freeway interchanges. Traffic congestion is alleviated by the addition of relatively short lane sections. In Milwaukee, the addition of a freeway lane in each direction for three miles would eliminate a serious capacity problem anticipated on the entire Interstate 94 corridor in 2010.
  • High occupancy toll lanes (HOT lanes) can reduce congestion in general purpose lanes. The Route 91 high occupancy toll lane in the Los Angeles area has reduced the period of peak congestion by an hour in each direction daily. Each day, nearly 40,000 people travel on the Route 91 HOT lane, 25 times the 1,700 carried on the nearby commuter rail line (Figure 21).
  • High occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV lanes) carry significantly higher volumes than new commuter rail systems. In the Washington, D.C. area, the Shirley highway HOV lane carries nearly 51,000 daily person trips during peak hours, more than eight times the all day volume of the new commuter rail line, which operates in the same corridor (Figure 22). This facility improves automobile travel times in each direction by more than one-half hour. In Los Angeles, the El Monte BRT or Busway-HOV lane carries 40,000 daily person trips, more than 5 times the volume of the San Bernardino commuter rail line, which is the most productive of the new Los Angeles commuter rail lines.