An Overlooked Transportation Alternative: Bus Rapid Transit

We need to look at all of our options when planning for transportation and future growth. Here is an interesting article  (op-ed) about BRT and some of the benefits.

BY | MARCH 7, 2016

It may not seem as sexy, but it offers most of the benefits of light rail at a fraction of the cost.

As traffic congestion worsens — with no end in sight — and cities look for ways to enhance their public-transportation systems, light rail gets most of the attention. At least 45 light-rail systems are now in operation worldwide, with seven scheduled to open this year alone. In fact, the United States has more light-rail systems than any other country — Germany comes in a distant second with 10.

Light rail certainly has its place, but in the rush to reinvent the streetcar for the modern era, a viable, much cheaper and very capable alternative isn’t getting the attention it should: bus rapid transit (BRT), which combines a bus system’s low cost and flexibility with light rail’s speed and capacity.

Compared to BRT, light rail is breathtakingly expensive — $150 million to $250 million per mile to build — while BRT typically costs $10 million to $30 million per mile. The reality is that BRT usually costs 20 percent of a light rail system but can capture 80-85 percent of those who would ride light rail.

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