How well does BRT perform in contrast to LRT? An Australian case study using MetroScan_TI

Author: Hensher, D.A., Ellison, R., Ho, C. and Weisbrod, G. (2018)

Journal: for Edward Elgar book on Bus Rapid Transit edited by Fiona Ferbrache, Chapter 3. (In Press)


BRT is typically a relatively more popular transport investment in developing countries in contrast to the bias observed increasingly in developed economies towards LRT. While there have been a number of comparative assessments of BRT and LRT (in all of its possible manifestations), with a focus on one or more elements of patronage demand, and costs of construction and operation, there has, with few exceptions, been a preference for LRT which some might describe as linked to emotional ideology rather than anything to do with factual evidence on the costs, benefits and economic impact of each modal investment. In this chapter, we present a new planning tool, MetroScan as a quick-scan tool that can be used to assess the merits of BRT and LRT. MetroScan is different to other planning systems in that it accounts for the demand implications on both passenger and freight-related activity (all in the one model system), endogenous residential and employment decisions, and associated benefit-cost outcomes, as well as the wider economic impacts of transport initiatives. We use a case study setting in the Northern Beaches of Sydney to illustrate the way in which MetroScan can assess a wider suite of benefits and costs of BRT and LRT, which encompasses not only accessibility and mobility opportunities but the contribution that can be made to the productivity and value added outcomes for the local economy. This broader set of considerations is important in suggesting other ways in which a comparison of BRT and LRT might be more informative than is typically presented.

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