Public Transport Policies in Europe: Implementing Bus Rapid Transit Systems in Major European Cities

Public Transport Policies in Europe: Implementing Bus Rapid Transit Systems in Major European Cities


Miquel Estrada, Christian Canales, Leif Thorson, Francesc Robuste, CENIT, Technical University of Catalonia, ES


Policies promoting Bus Rapid Transit implementation in Europe might take advantage of its low budget requirements and high capacity to provide a much more efficient transport system.


Bus Rapid Transit systems (BRT) have been implemented in several metropolitan areas of the world in order to provide high quality transport services between CBD and their outlying towns. The concept of BRT was created in dense populated cities of South America in the early eighties, where budget constraints did not allow constructing heavy rail lines in the demand corridors. Instead of this, governments developed new bus network designs that took some of the characteristics of rail mode but they did not require huge investments. From this time to now, other metropolitan areas in Europe, North America and Australia have taken advantage of this reengineered mode and have proposed policies to develop these systems.

The main objective of this paper is to analyse different existing policies to manage BRT systems in order to assess their efficiency. Generally, both BRT and Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines are able to carry 20,000pax/h and their associated commercial speed is estimated to be 25 km/h (up to 80km/h in special implementations such as highways or guided systems). However, the unit construction cost per distance in BRT lines is less than five times the associated value in LRT lines (BRT cost =2US$/km whereas LRT =10 US$/km).

The project ex-post evaluations are carried out taking into account major variables of supply and transport demand such as: passengers transported by BRT, population, modal split, length and stops of BRT network, commercial speed, average incomes and the cost per kilometre of its implementation. Apart from that, a set of key features of BRT networks differentiating from the conventional bus operation is considered:
- High distance between bus stops
- Layouts and bus speeds
- Right of way
- Light signal priority
- Terminals (design, transhipments and value of waiting time)
- Ticketing
- Technology

The weight of each variable has been studied to determine the policy trade-off between its effect to the bus productivity and negative effects to the rest of stakeholders involved (vehicle congestion, etc.). In addition, a benchmarking of the policies promoting BRT in several European cities is carried out to identify the most efficient BRT configuration. The core of the paper is based on 2 research studies about this topic made by the Department of Transport Infrastructures of the Technical University of Catalonia. These studies have modelled the social profits of implementing BRT lines in 5 major corridors of Barcelona.

The paper is organized as follows:
1- BRT policies and implementation in South America, North America and Australia.The analysis in South America is focussed on 5 South American cities (Curitiba, Portoalegre, Guayaquil, Bogotá, Quito) that operate mature BRT systems in dense populated areas. BRTs are known to be the most efficient transport mode in these scenarios. In contrast, the development of BRT in North America and Australia (Ottawa, Seattle, Brisbane, Adelaida, etc.) has the concurrence of other regional-urban transport modes. For this reason, BRT systems have been planned as an integrated mode with other transport networks such as regional rail, tube, tramway or conventional bus lines. In spite of their dispersed population, BRT policies have met with a great success in terms of transport efficiency.
2- BRT policies and implementation in Europe. The implementation of BRT systems in Europe has been studied in Leeds, Stockholm, Paris-TVM, Dublin and Eindhoven in order to compare network topology, total amount of passengers and other effects to the society and urbanism (reduction of congestion, land use, etc). A benchmarking between main operating variables as well as social profits and construction costs will be defined.
3- Spanish case study: BUS-VAO lane in Madrid and Spanish recent initiatives. Transport policy and construction framework.The BUS-VAO lane (N-VI) in Madrid has been analysed in order to determine a detailed evolution of specific transit measures (AADT) and social profit derived from its implementation. The positive results of this lane have caused the extension of BRT policies to other corridors with high demand in Madrid and Barcelona.
4- Guidelines to develop an efficient BRT system.Finally, a guideline of BRT implementation is being carried out in order to identify the optimal network design and minimum patronage threshold that guarantees the efficiency of the system. Taking into account the characteristics of BRT systems considered, we will determine shape-demand networks and serve- demand networks in 3 scenarios:
- Dense populated area without other massive public transport modes
- Dense populated area with alternative public transport modes
- Disperse populated area


Association for European Transport