The equity impacts of bus rapid transit: A review of the evidence and implications for sustainable transport

Author: Venter C., Jennings G., Hidalgo D., Valderrama A. (2017)

Journal: International Journal of Sustainable Transportation

Keywords: Bus rapid transit; equity; poverty; social exclusion; social impact assessment; transport disadvantage

The paper offers an analysis of empirical evidence on the equity impacts of operational Bus Rapid Transit
(BRT) systems in the Global South. The focus is on vertical equity, i.e. whether BRT systems achieve
progressive benefits for poorer segments of the population. Findings from Africa, Asia, and Latin America
all suggest that BRT does offer significant benefits to low-income groups, in terms of travel time and cost
savings, access enhancement, and safety and health benefits. However benefits are often skewed toward
medium-income users and thus less progressive than they might be. Two primary reasons for this are
insufficient spatial coverage and inappropriate fare policies. While many features of BRT potentially allow
it to deliver pro-poor outcomes, such outcomes only materialize if BRT implementers pay specific and
sustained attention to equity. The paper identifies key issues that need to be addressed to steer BRT
implementation toward more socially sustainable outcomes—including better integration with other
transit, paratransit, and nonmotorized transport services, and with the housing sector.