Skip to main content

It's not BRT if it's not on the map

TransJakarta Corridor 1 station and bus

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has a 'branding problem'!

Bus improvements of many kinds are being called BRT. This is muddying debate over BRT in many places. Bogota clearly has superb BRT. More and more cities do. But is Delhi's 'first BRT corridor' really BRT? Are Taipei's median bus priority lanes BRT? How about Jakarta's busways?

Walter Hook of ITDP has an interesting answer: It's not BRT if it's not on the map!

Here is the relevant quote from an interview with Walter on Streetsblog NYC:
A rule of thumb should be whether or not a map company would include the BRT system in a map of New York City. If it doesn't appear on any map other than as a standard bus route, then it has failed to enter the public consciousness as something above and beyond normal bus services.

I knew TransJakarta had succeeded when I bought a 2007 tourist map and it included a map of TransJakarta and its stations. The Orange Line in LA is on the ‘Mass Transit Map’ which includes the subway and light rail lines, and it's packed, so I think it's a success.

When I went to Taipei and asked about the BRT system, nobody knew what I was talking about. It wasn't on any map. That is a sign that it has failed. In reality, Taipei only has dedicated lanes for buses, and continues to inefficiently operate the same tired old buses on them. It really cannot be called BRT.

Is this a useful addition to the search for clearer definitions and terminology for BRT? See also Dario Hidalgo's efforts at the City Fix. He suggests the term, "Quickways" for high-end BRT systems.

Comments

  1. Totally valid point, and one of the keys is how the transit agency pitches and names BRT. Bus has an image problem in the US because of years of underinvestment compared with rail transit alternatives.

    It would still be cheaper I suspect for the bus company to buy (or bribe) the map company then to build a train.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello.

    An interesting post indeed. Would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the new BRT implemented in Johannesburg. I think, going by your criteria, the system (called Rea Vaya - http://www.reavaya.org.za) would certainly qualify as a BRT given that the system is complete departure from the past, and has certainly etched itself into the minds of citizens as a 'BRT'.
    Please also free to check out my new blog - http://urbanjoburg.blogspot.com.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Podcasts on urban mobility and urban issues: a LONG list

Below is my increasingly long list of podcasts on urban mobility and/or urban issues. 

If you are not yet a regular podcast listener, you need to download a podcast-listening app to your phone, tablet or desktop and subscribe (it's free) to the podcasts that interest you.

UPDATE 1: This list has many podcasts but obviously I hope you will try mine! They are Reinventing Transport and Reinventing Parking.

UPDATE 2: I have added FOURTY TWO more since this was first published. Thanks to everyone who has sent tips.

Transport-based City Types and their Trajectories

I want to help you get perspective on your city and its transport system with the help of simple city types based on their dominant transport modes, such as Walking Cities, Transit Cities, Bus Cities, Motorcycle Cities and Car Cities.

This way of thinking about cities is a heuristic (an imperfect mental model or technique that is nevertheless good enough to be helpful). And it obviously is imperfect. For example, real cities often have various modes of transport, and modern cities are really all some kind of hybrid city type.

But it is still useful, especially if we add the idea of a Traffic Saturated City, which is a very different beast from a Car City. It is important for change-makers in Traffic Saturated Cities to be aware they are not in automobile dependent cities yet.

Options for digesting this: 
Read the brief article below and study the diagrams. They complement the podcast. For more depth, LISTEN to the 37 minute audio with the player above. A full transcript of the podcast is…

Simplify and Connect: a key to better bus networks

What if I said your city could have better public transport without more funding or higher fares? Does that sound too good to be true?

Reinventing Transport this time is a basic explainer for the idea that public transport networks are often improved by being simplified. It can be a low-cost step to a better system.  



If people in your city face long waiting times for buses, there might be too many bus lines. A simplified network may offer better service.

Does that sound intriguing? Or maybe this issue is old hat for you. Either way, I hope you will get something from listening to the episode or reading the article below.
The basic idea Imagine a town with 100 buses. And suppose the town has 25 bus lines. There would be four buses for each line. But suppose the town simplifies its bus network down to just five lines. Now there are 20 buses per bus line.