Comment 120280

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 15, 2016 at 08:21:30

Tybalt, you brought up a point that Chris hinted at in his article and it is indeed a very important one. BRT or Bus Rapid Transit has an image issue. Planners have often use the terms Real BRT, or BRT vs. "BRT Lite". Many politicians have used the term BRT to describe a bus transit operation that includes everything from an improved bus service that only stops at every second stop or a simple express bus line that has really nice and high tech or "tarted up" bus stops. They (the politicians) almost never include physically segregated rights of way over much or all of the proposed route, which has always been in my opinion the real indication of true BRT.

I accidentally exploded on a politician during an open house with a project I was working on over this issue. Now, he wasn't personally responsible for this entire phenomena and I did apologize to him later but I was very angry because it was usually falls on planners like me who have to explain some very basic points about BRT to people at public meetings like this. The disappointment and shock on their faces when it is explained to them that, the bus route they thought was BRT and which really only had a marginal improvement on ridership compared to what existed before it, which was also highly touted by this particular city as BRT, really wasn't. The idea that, I was now showing people at that meeting what was really true BRT and it turned out to be a lot more expensive and intrusive than what they had first thought and believed BRT was. The public then screams at you because now they fear that I maybe lying to them and misleading them to what BRT actually is or isn't. The public just doesn't know for the most part and they are angry about being lied to by politicians. The meeting was definite learning experience for me.

This image issue with BRT also includes the political phenomena of "BRT Creep" which, usually due to budgetary and political reasons, is when a BRT project suffers many small performance and infrastructure cuts to it over its development and the end result is something that doesn't even come close to being true BRT. However, the same project is touted as a fantastic example of BRT to the public by politicians. When this compromised system is then opened to the public complaints soon follow expressing there disappointment with a transit system which is very obviously not in the category of rapid transit in anyway.

I have sometimes been accused of being anti-bus and pro-rail. Which I am neither. My problem is that the basic premise that politicians and people who either don't truly understand or don't care about transit usually believe about BRT is just so fundamentally flawed, "BRT is just like any rail based rapid transit system, only cheaper!" A rail line with buses, cheaper, simpler to operate and implement, compared to rail based transit systems. The core of the equation is that cheaper is better, in all respects. This is just plain wrong! The reality is that BRT and LRT for example as transit operating technologies, compliment each other instead of contrast and both have some capabilities in common. However, once you have a BRT or rail based transit technology like LRT in place, both operating technology choices require very different types of experts and experiences to own and operate. The reality is that, they are different systems with different capabilities and different operating issues. Both have to be operated in very distinct and separate ways for either of them to be successful. It took most of our local politicians and rabid BRT supporters here in Ottawa, 3+ decades to figure that point out.

Permalink | Context

Events Calendar

There are no upcoming events right now.
Why not post one?

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools