Comment 46948

By mdruker (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2010 at 00:35:46

Transit investment of this kind is made for two main purposes: as an element of a transit network, and as a guide for development. It also is not enough to consider the transit benefits of a system relative to its costs -- you have to consider the effect on the transportation system as a whole and the city as a whole.

If you only bought and ran more buses instead of infrastructure upgrades, or built a mixed-traffic streetcar instead of LRT, what would the growth of the city look like? What road and highway investments would be "needed" to deal with the form of the growth? Conversely, if you built light rail, how much investment in road infrastructure can you avoid making?

Transit-wise, the absolutely biggest factor is whether the vehicle has its own lane and signal priority. (Next is fast boarding and exit.) Unfortunately, in many cases BRT is the "cheap" option, and is compromised to a standard nowhere near LRT. It tends not to be a way of upgrading more routes, but a way to simply spend less money on transit, period. Properly built BRT is not all that much less expensive than LRT, and certainly not if you need serious capacity -- for which you need passing lanes. With labour being the primary operating expense (at least in North America), it can easily be much more expensive to operate a well-used BRT.

BRT's main advantage is the ability to have an "open" system - where you have a dedicated busway that can be used by vehicles that then leave the system to travel other corridors.

But if you're looking for good transit along a corridor, want this transit to attract development as a primary purpose, and want it to be easy to add capacity, LRT is likely to be the better choice.

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