China has set the goal to implement 5,000 kilometers of BRTs by 2020, according to the Ministry of Transport in 2007. According to BRTdata.org, today 21 Chinese cities have implemented BRT systems and as this number continues to increase, it has become critical to identify the key factors that influence the operation performance and service quality of Chinese BRTs.
Since October 2014, the BRT Centre of Excellence, through its members WRI Ross Center and PUC, has been collaborating with China Urban Sustainable Transport Research Centre (CUSTReC) to promote sustainable urban transport and BRT development in China. The joint effort focuses on characterizing current status of Chinese BRT systems, identifying opportunities to improve the BRTs in terms of operation performance and service quality, and providing technical and policy recommendations to Chinese decision makers for the development of a new generation of BRTs in China.
The “New Generation of BRT in China” project has encouraged collaboration between the BRT Centre of Excellence and CUSTReC through data sharing, policy overview of public transport in different Chinese cities and the development of methodologies to identify main strengths and opportunities to improve in Chinese BRTs. The BRT CoE also held the “International Workshop in Bus Rapid Transit” in Guangzhou, where PUC and WRI members presented some of the research topics that are being studied by our Centre. Additionally, researchers from the BRT CoE visited China and were able to exchange experiences and knowledge with CUSTReC and to have field visits to the systems in Beijing and Jinan. Likewise, CUSTReC researchers visited the bus systems in Rio de Janeiro and Santiago visits.
Our partnership with CUSTReC has resulted in important findings that are particularly showcased in the paper “Comparing Chinese and Non-Chinese Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): Evidence from Evaluating Global BRTs Based on BRT Design Indicators”. The paper was recently presented at the TRB Annual Conference in Washington DC in January 2017, and received the highest score given by peer reviewers in the TRB’s Standing Committee on Bus Transit Systems. The paper authors are Pablo Guarda, Juan Miguel Velasquez, Thet Hein Tun, Xumei Chen and Guo Zhong.
One of the main contributions of this research was that we were able to compare Chinese and other global BRTs using standardized design indicators in a quantitative manner based on evaluated scores of BRT by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). Findings from the research were also disseminated in the form of webinar series by team members, Juan Miguel Velasquez and Pablo Guarda, in August 2016.
The BRT Centre of Excellence will continue to collaborate with CUSTReC on strengthening data sharing, improving information available on BRTdata.org and translating publications for international access. Finally, the team expects to make this research available through a publication that will convey our recommendations for the next generation of BRT to decision makers in China.