Passenger Transport November 2020 Vol 78 No 23 - 7
Now More Than Ever,
Bus Rapid Transit
BY JOE CALABRESE
Director of Bus Rapid Transit Strategy
IN 2020, THE WORLD'S PUBLIC
transit systems were forced to cope
with a new set of challenges, including
decreased ridership, slashed revenues, enhanced safety requirements
and reduced confidence in their ability
to safely serve customers. And while
these current issues require immediate
management, the industry is also being
challenged to take meaningful steps
to improve our systems for the future.
I think a new focus on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) just might be the answer.
Introduced nearly 20 years ago in
the U.S., BRT is the fastest growing
mode of public transportation in North
America, with more than 100 systems
operating in large and small cities. BRT
systems consist of a suite of elements
that create a high-quality rapid-transit experience. These elements may
include level boarding, off-vehicle fare
payment, unique stations and vehicles
and branded identity. They are very
successful because they are scalable
and have the capacity to improve
customer service while encouraging
economic development and enhancing
a transit systems' overall image. BRT
also integrates rail characteristics that
reduce the cost-per-passenger when
compared to conventional local bus
service, shorten travel times and provide higher frequency service-all of
which makes them more efficient than
traditional bus services.
What's more, several full-feature BRT
systems can be built for the cost of one
light rail system, delivering additional
high-quality transit to underserved
areas and equitable mobility to a larger
and more diverse population. For agencies working to stretch limited financial
resources, BRT deserves a serious look.
One Size Does Not Fit All
When I mention that BRT can be
adapted to suit almost all municipal
needs, I'm not assuming, I'm looking at
reality. When I was CEO of the Greater
Cleveland Regional Transit Authority,
we launched the HealthLine BRT with
tremendous regional support. In its
first year of operation, the BRT saw a
40 percent increase in ridership. The
Greater Cleveland area also benefited
from $4.2 billion in investments along
the corridor, even before revenue service commenced.
The Cleveland experience is not
unique; many have recognized the positive impacts of BRT. In York Region,
north of Toronto, AECOM assisted with
the planning, design and implementation of the VIVA BRT system. Initiated
in the early 2000s, VIVA has continued
to grow and support business and
residential development. In Los Angeles, the LA Metro Orange Line carries
20,000 daily transit riders to jobs,
schools, shopping and recreational destinations. Moving forward, LA Metro is
implementing projects to extend Orange
Line ridership capacity through strategic
grade separations as well as advanced
vehicle automation and technologies.
Lori Labrum, vice president and
AECOM transit engineer said: " We
think the future of BRT is unlimited.
We're focused on BRT planning, design
and system implementation as well as
incorporating semi-autonomous and
connected technologies to address our
current mobility challenges. "
Initiated in the early 2000s, the VIVA BRT system in York Region near Toronto has continued to grow
and support business and residential development.
Alvin Livingstone, AECOM associate
vice president/senior project manager.
Increasing service capacity is a
priority for BRT systems. This can be
accomplished using future technologies that allow multiple buses to operate as a unit. Technologies meant to
assist-but not replace-the driver may
also expand capacity. These include
communication advances that control
separation between buses, enabling
increased frequency and consistent
Vehicle electrification is also expected
to enhance BRT's desirability by reducing noise and improving air quality.
Increasing numbers of cities are adopting electric vehicle technology-many
with a mandate for their use. Los Angeles and New York have introduced electric buses, with LA Metro setting a goal
for a complete electric fleet by 2030.
What Does The Future Hold?
Future flexibility is another BRT benefit.
As an integral part of a transit network,
BRT preserves rights-of-way that, when
warranted, can easily and cost efficiently be upgraded to light rail transit
(LRT). Early BRT design strategies such
as relocating underground utilities and
installing conduits for overhead catenary and communication lines during
construction can reduce LRT conversion costs.
As we discuss needed continued
investment in higher capacity, better
quality and more efficient systems, it
is also important to recognize the current environment of uncertainty around
transit-and consider what we can do
about it. Transit systems need to plan
for an uncertain future by engaging in
action today. While the tomorrow is
never guaranteed, I do feel that reserving needed rights-of-way, and developing and implementing a BRT system
along a city's strongest corridor, can
improve the connectivity and economic
health across the city, no matter what
the future may hold.
BRT systems can incorporate cutting-edge technologies that increase
performance and create a premium
experience for riders. For example, current technologies allow BRT systems to
control traffic signalization systems and
reduce travel time. And there are many
other technologies that can improve
BRT systems, such as lane departure
and emergency braking, which enhance
safety and reduce needed lanewidth, making space for bicycles and
pedestrians while preserving valuable
" Recent advances in technology and
design make BRT a viable solution for
today and the foreseeable future for
transit operators interested in long-term
transit that can grow and accommodate
increasing ridership demands, " said
The HealthLine BRT, run by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, saw a 40 percent
increase in ridership in its first year of operation.
APTA'S BRT STANDARDS WORKING GROUP HAS PUBLISHED UPDATES
to four BRT recommended practices that can help public transit agencies in
the planning, design and development of BRT systems. The recommended
practices, which provide guidance on key elements that distinguish BRT from
other types of bus service, are as follows:
* Bus Rapid Transit Service Design and Operations
* Bus Rapid Transit Stations
* Designing Bus Rapid Transit Running Ways
* BRT Branding, Imaging and Marketing
The BRT Standards Working Group is chaired by Mark Huffer of HNTB and
Spring Worth of the District Department of Transportation (Washington, DC),
and includes 28 BRT experts from public transit agencies, consultancies, state
DOTs and non-profit/academic institutions.
Access the updated recommended practices at www.apta.com/standards/
bus-transit-systems-standards-program. For questions and additional information, contact working group staff advisor, Lisa Jerram, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LA Metro is looking to extend Orange Line ridership capacity through strategic grade separations
and advanced vehicle automation and technologies.
DECEMBER 11, 2020 |
Passenger Transport November 2020 Vol 78 No 23
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport November 2020 Vol 78 No 23
Passenger Transport November 2020 Vol 78 No 23 - 1
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Passenger Transport November 2020 Vol 78 No 23 - 11