Apples to apples: Comparing BRT and light rail while avoiding the “BRT-Lite” trap

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which since the 1970s has spread from its birthplace in Latin America to all continents, can, in many circumstances, offer significant advantages over Light Rail Transit (LRT) in the same travel corridor. BRT can be less costly, can offer greater flexibility, and can offer travel-speed advantages at least the equal of LRT while providing capacities adequate to handle the corridor's public-transport volumes. With the many advantages associated with BRT, advocates of LRT are sometimes portrayed as being blindly committed to rail technology despite the incontrovertible evidence in favor of BRT deployment and as attached to the image of rail rather than any transportation-service advantage it confers. Indeed, the best-designed BRT systems worldwide offer service comparable to that of rail transit and at a lower cost. But BRT is not a single technology, and system attributes vary widely worldwide. This paper demonstrates an approach to the consistent cost-and-service comparison of BRT and LRT, using data from public-transport systems in the United States. The authors first discuss previous methods of evaluating BRT and LRT capital costs and the breakdown of these costs into specific project elements. This is followed by an outline of the methods and data used in this study. They then present their results and discuss their implications to the comparison between the capital costs and performance of BRT and LRT systems. Finally, they conclude their paper with implications to the debate surrounding the adoption of either BRT or LRT.


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01683880
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 18 2018 3:12PM