Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are transportation systems that use buses to transport large numbers of people rapidly and efficiently. The goal of BRT is to provide quality service similar to that of rail transit while still enjoying the cost savings of bus transit. BRT systems are also known as express buses, limited busways and rapid busways.

Typical BRT systems have the following features:

  • Bus only, grade separated right-of-way lanes
  • High-frequency all day service
  • Off-bus fare collection
  • Level boarding stations
  • Vehicles with Tram-like characteristics

These systems are very popular in Asia, Canada, Central America, and South America, and there are many advocates for these systems in the United States. According to “in the US, the Federal Transit Administration is big on BRT. I would argue this is because the federal government is too poor and too undercommitted to transit to pay for heavy and light rail systems. Plus, this type of transit is expensive and requires certain preconditions–such as population density, compact development, concentrated work destinations, etc.–to work well.”

“Bus Rapid Transit in “third world” countries is a particularly successful form of transit, moving many people at a cost much lower than building subways. The big difference between BRT in North vs. South America is the tolerance for density on the buses. In the U.S., the stated capacity for a 60 foot articulated bus is 80 people. In Chile or Colombia, the same bus carries 160 people–as many or more people as a subway car.”

You can look for BRT in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, and Denver.


  1. Jim Duncan

    Corbin –

    How do you think this would work in Charlottesville? (and by “Charlottesville” I mean CharlAlbemarle and the surrounding areas)


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