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Insight

7 Basics of Bus Rapid Transit

  • 1. Running-Ways

    How do you put the "rapid" in bus rapid transit? Give buses dedicated right-of-way along the designated corridor. Separating buses from general traffic enables faster trips, creating an experience akin to light rail for riders.
    Quick Facts
    The Chicago Transit Authority's Ashland Avenue alter­na­tives analysis estimated that BRT would increase bus speeds by 83% through center-running, bus-only lanes.
     

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  • 2. Stations

    BRT stations are a key component of any successful BRT system. They help brand the BRT and attract riders, provide acces­si­bil­ity for all, facilitate efficient boarding, and offer shelter and safety to riders.
    Quick Facts
    The Silver Line in Michigan incor­po­rates snowmelt systems in its station platforms to keep them clear in winter.
     

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  • 3. Vehicles

    A variety of bus options are available for BRTs, with differences in size, design, propulsion, internal config­u­ra­tion and horizontal/longi­tu­di­nal control. How the bus is configured influences the BRT's performance, capacity and service quality.
    Quick Facts
    Seattle's Madison Street BRT is designed to use an innovative five-door electric trolley fleet of 13 buses that connected to an overhead contact system.
     

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  • 4. Off-Board Fare Collection

    Nothing is worse for a bus rider than waiting to pay on board behind a logjam of other passengers. BRT eliminates those delays by collecting fares off-board.
    Quick Facts
    According to brtdata.org, 415,156 passengers are served per day by 23 BRT corridors in the United States. And more than 205 cities in the world operate some form of BRT.
     

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  • 5. Intelligent Trans­porta­tion Systems

    BRT reliability can be attributed to intelligent trans­porta­tion systems that give buses signal priority, keeping them moving rapidly along the corridor, and giving riders real-time alerts on bus arrival times.
    Quick Facts
    Travel times decreased 27% on Euclid Avenue thanks to the HealthLine BRT and its traffic signal prior­i­ti­za­tion systems.
     

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  • 6. Service and Operation Plan

    Realizing BRT's benefits means creating a service and operation plan that matches the demands for service. In designing their plans, agencies should consider population and employment forecasts, how to facilitate multimodal access, and how to make connections to other transit lines.
    Quick Facts
    Seattle DOT's Roosevelt to Downtown High Capacity Transit project features a 7.5-mile BRT corridor that prioritizes bicycles access and connections to existing streetcar and bus service.
     

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  • 7. Branding

    Branding differ­en­ti­ates BRT from other conven­tional transit service and makes it iden­ti­fi­able in the eyes of the public. It also improves marketabil­ity, helping agencies communicate the value that BRT is bringing to the public.
    Quick Facts
    Cleveland's HealthLine BRT helped spur more than $6 billion in transit-oriented development along its corridor.
     

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Insight
Is Autonomous Bus Rapid Transit the Next Evolution of BRT?
CDM Smith technical strategy leader Tim Sorenson explores the future of BRT and the oppor­tu­ni­ties that are presented by autonomous vehicle integration in this Mass Transit Magazine feature.
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