Bus Rapid Transit is a method of transportation that combines the speed and convenience of light rail with the flexibility and lower costs of traditional bus systems. BRT’s have been utilized for 4 decades and have been implemented in over 150 cities around the world.
There are several features that set BRT transit apart from customary busing:
Typical bus systems require passengers to add money as they are boarding the bus. This creates lines at boarding and slower route times. BRT systems have implemented off-boarding kiosks to allow for pre-payment and ticketing resulting in improved rider confidence and rapid on-boarding and off -boarding.
At the station or bus stop, passengers have access to several doors that open wide to allow passengers to quickly enter and exit the bus. Newer BRT designs include platforms that are level with the bus or bus floors that are lowered and do not have steps to allow for passengers with strollers, bikes, and wheelchairs to board quickly and comfortably.
Bus only lanes, centralized away from slow moving or turning vehicles allows for buses to transport passengers quicker than when immersed in traffic. Special rights of way and bus priority traffic signals reduce congestion related delays ensuring route times that are significantly reduced as compared to a traditional busing system.
BRT systems enjoy lower vehicle costs and infrastructure related expenditures as opposed to that of light rail. In addition, BRT systems offer flexibility in adding or changing station locations at a minimal cost versus that of the fixed stations you would find along a rail line.
The diagram below outlines some of the major advantages of BRT systems as depicted by the Government Accountability Office and Smart Growth America.
As Syracuse continues to evaluate potential infrastructure options, look for more discussions related to multi-modal transportation such as Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail to come to light. Although traffic congestion is not a great concern in Central New York currently, the increasing residential population in the downtown core as well as potential changes to the I-81 corridor could push our planners to evaluate our public transportation options.