Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bus Rapid Transit: the "Cheaper Than Rail" myth

Reposting from Buttermilk & Molasses:

"For an opposing view on BRT check out the "BRT Analyses" page at Light Rail Now!:

"The biggest criticism of BRT is that it is actually NOT cheaper than light rail. Cleveland's Euclid Ave HealthLine BRT system mentioned above cost $200 mil to build a 6.8 mile line- that's $29 mil per mile compared to Lewis' quote on LRT at $25 mil/mile. Consider all that must be built in the downtown core: a dedicated busway, BRT stations with ticketing machines, a signal prioritization system. Take into account the higher operating costs of buses vs LRV's and in the end light rail actually costs 16% less per passenger mile than bus rapid transit. When you take the supposed cost advantage out of the equation BRT has no advantage over rail, it is just re-packaged busing.

"I understand that GRTC is looking at BRT as a transition to a streetcar system because of the federal requirements to get money to build such a system. But other than the physical space for the right of way there is almost nothing usable from a BRT transition to streetcars. The right of way would have to be completely rebuilt and all new vehicles would have to be purchased, so there is no cost savings in such a "transition."

"I believe a true transitional system would use electric trolley buses with signal prioritization. As the rail network expands the LRV's can use the same catenary for power and the trolley buses can be moved around the city to establish new lines or operate in places the LRV's cannot, such as the extreme grades around Shockoe Bottom.

"BRT is really not a transitional system, it is an expensive, long-term investment in more of the same."

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