BRT As Austerity LRT or Should That Be BHLS? - A Call for Clarity and Rigour in Appraising Bus Based Transit
Austin Smyth, University Of Hertfordshire, Bob Miller, Consultant
This paper makes a call for clarity and rigour in appraising bus based transit
This paper makes a call for clarity and rigour in appraising bus based transit. Against the backdrop of global developments in the sector it argues for in the first instance getting the definitions right. It reviews the characteristics of High capacity Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), as implemented in Latin America, South-East Asia and Africa, Moderate capacity BRT (BRT-Lite, Busway), as implemented in North America and Australia and Europe and Bus with High Level of Service (BHLS) – a European approach - with focus on quality and reliability. The paper distinguishes between BRT and BHLS in terms of running way, the characteristics of stations and stopping places, vehicles design and quality, operational and customer-facing systems, as well as branding and image, and market development
It sets out what anyone considering developing a case for a BRT scheme and wanting to create the best possible case for a successful scheme and attracting funding needs to consider in terms of policy and economic drivers, what makes a good scheme and what is it trying to do, with an emphasis on the need for clarity in objectives and what these considerations mean for encompassing the full benefits of BRT schemes including supporting a Vision for Growth and the Link to Spatial Planning, (and costs) and translating those into potential funding sources.
This provides the basis for considering BRT as Austerity LRT? It then poses the questions:
• Is this really the right starting point? Shouldn’t we be looking at the objectives for any scheme and aiming to design accordingly to maximise the benefits to the identified groups
• Is BRT really the poor relation to LRT or merely a point on a continuum that considers factors such as demand, geography, topography and interaction with land use.
It considers the argument BRT as a stepping stone to wider more permanently segregated systems and the potential conflicting objective of the emphasis on claiming cost savings for BRT compared to LRT or are we really taking about BHLS versus LRT? Finally, it draws some
lessons, relevance and potential importance of bus-based transit to Western Europe with particular reference to the UK and Ireland. The paper is supported by case study evidence and research.
Association for European Transport