The Revival of Buses As Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Urban and Regional Planning: Retrospect and Prospects



The Revival of Buses As Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Urban and Regional Planning: Retrospect and Prospects

Authors

Todor Stojanovski, KTH Royal Institute Of Technology

Description

In contrast to the conventional bus systems that operate predominantly on streets, in mixed traffic or on dedicated lanes, bus rapid transit (BRT) achieves high capacity by channeling passenger flows in a system of segregated busways, partially or fully separated from other traffic. In the emerging planning paradigm for multimodality in Europe there is much advocacy for BRT and the compact city.

In this article I trace buses and BRT in the history of urban and regional planning and urban planning and design and I look at European cases of newer ‘compact city’ neighborhoods developed along busways. The motorbus in the 20th century became preferred and widespread alternative to the 19th century tramways and railways. But in the same time the bus was profoundly patronized. It was more an excuse for urban planners and designers not to plan public transport than a mobility solution. The flexible bus like the car could reach anywhere. Today we see a wide replication of the ‘compact city’ urban model in the abandoned industrial zones in Europe and BRT is in the heart of many compact city neighborhoods.What is the perception and position of bus and BRT today? Did BRT made a change in urban and regional planning? What is happening on the historical, today abandoned industrial urban fringe of the cities in Northern Europe? How is BRT included? How BRT can help?

Abstract

In contrast to the conventional bus systems that operate predominantly on streets, in mixed traffic or on dedicated lanes, bus rapid transit (BRT) achieves high capacity by channeling passenger flows in a system of segregated busways, partially or fully separated from other traffic. We are in the midst of an emergence of a new multimodality paradigm in urban and region planning and within the new paradigm there is priority on environmental friendly and more energy effective transports like public transport, cycling and walking in multimodal systems. European commission (EC) advocates for balance between transport modes and more sustainable transports. In the emerging planning paradigm there is much advocacy for BRT and its integration in cities through the ‘compact city’ model.

In this article I trace buses and BRT in the history of urban and regional planning and urban planning and design and I look at European cases of ‘compact city’ neighborhoods developed along busways. The motorbus with the emergence of the car was preferred and widespread alternative to the 19th century tramways and railways. But in the same time the bus was profoundly patronized. It was more an excuse for urban planners and designers not to plan public transport than a mobility solution. The flexible bus like the car could reach anywhere. What is the perception and position of bus and BRT today? Did BRT made a change in urban and regional planning? What is happening on the historical, today abandoned industrial urban fringe of the cities in Northern Europe? How is BRT included? How BRT can help?

Today we see a wide replication of the ‘compact city’ urban model in the abandoned industrial zones in Europe and BRT is in the heart of many ‘compact city’ neighborhoods. The urban model includes partially separated or light busways integrated in multimodal streets alongside sidewalks, bicycle and car lanes. BRT is conceived as a future public transport system, a sophisticated high speed system integrated in cities. BRT has inflexible busways and it is driver for urban new developments. There are many finished and ongoing busway projects in Europe. But there are too few debates and too little reflections on the replication of the ‘compact city’ model. The partially separated busways integrated with cities do not allow high speeds. Thus they cannot compete with the private car on regional scale because they are slower (20-25km/h) than the typical regional public transport systems. Secondly, the ‘sophisticated vehicles’ are often the plain old buses that run on busways. They are as austere and uncomfortable as the other buses in every city. There are some new concept buses, but they are still prototypes. The emergence of the stereotypical compact city neighborhoods opens new questions: How attractive is to live in there? Should we replicate more ‘compact city’ neighborhoods like in Gothenbourg, Eindhoven, Douai, Paris and Cambridge? How creatively BRT is used and how creatively can it be used?

Publisher

Association for European Transport