BRT and BHLS around the world: Explosive growth, large positive impacts and many issues outstanding

12 / 18 / 2012

A survey of Bus Rapid Transit BRT and Bus of High Level of Service BHLS around the world indicates that there are about 120 cities with bus corridors, with 99 of the cities entering into the list in the last 12 years. The existing bus corridors comprise about 280 corridors, 4300 km, 6700 stations and use 30,000 buses, serving about 28 million passengers per day. In 2010–2011, 19 cities completed new systems − 16 in the developing world – and seven cities expanded their current systems. By late 2011, about 49 new cities were building systems, 16 cities were expanding their corridors, and 31 cities were in initial planning. This impressive growth may be attributed in part to the successes of Curitiba, Bogotá, México City, Istanbul, Ahmedabad and Guangzhou. These cities show low cost, rapid implementation and high performance BRTs, with significant positive externalities. Interesting trends are emerging, such as the implementation of citywide integrated bus systems, improved processes for private participation in operations, increased funding from national governments, and growth of bus manufacturers and technology providers. Despite the growth, there are some outstanding issues: BRT and BHLS do not have a single meaning and image and are often regarded as a “second best” as compared to rail alternatives. In addition several systems in the developing world suffer problems resulting from poor planning, implementation and operation, due to financial, institutional and regulatory constraints. The BRT and BHLS Industry are in their “infancy” and there is need for consolidation and concerted effort.