Flagship BRT Fizzles in the USA

Bus Rapid Transit or BRT is the transit flavour ‘du jour’ of BC politicians. Any mention of transit in the region ultimately leads to BRT, as if it was the grand panacea to solve our transit woes. The trouble is, our politicos have never read a book about public transit,Ai??let aloneAi??perused the chapter on buses.

A bus can never compete against rail transit unless it is guided or operates on a specially created busway, but when such investment is made for buses, the costs rise significantly and nears that of light rail. When one compares the benefits of “rail’ versus bus, transit experts will usually recommend a slightly more expensive ‘rail‘ line as it would provide more bang for ones buck.

For over fourty years, bus manufacturers have tried to provide a bus alternative to light rail and to date have not found the winning formula. From busways andAi??guided-bus in the 70’s and 80’s, to Guided Light TransitAi??Ai??in the 90’sAi??until now, except for small installations here and there around the world, the BRT transit alternative has stalled.

BRT, like light-metro, isAi??a niche market transit systemAi??simply because for a few dollars moreAi??in the case of BRT orAi?? for a whole lot of dollarsAi??less, as in the case of light metro, one gets a bigger bang for ones investment with light rail.

In BC,Ai??the Bus Rapid Transit being talked about isn’t even BRT, but TransLink speak for express buses, asAi??BRT or rapid bus seemsAi??more grand when one says it. Sadly, for many transit customers a bus, is a bus and taking the care is just easier.

Bristol withdraws busway support

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 11:15 PM EST


By Steve Collins
Staff Writer

BRISTOL ai??i?? Convinced that commuter rail is key to Bristolai??i??s future, the city has taken a formal stand against the proposed $573 million busway between Hartford and New Britain.

ai???Connecticut has got to stop spending money, our money, on short-sighted solutions that arenai??i??t really solutions at all but more like a finger in the dike,ai??? said Mary Alford, a member of Bristolai??i??s Transportation Commission.

ai???We need a long-range plan for transportation here and the busway isnai??i??t it,ai??? she said.

The move to endorse commuter rail instead of the busway reverses the cityai??i??s 2004 endorsement of the busway project. It follows the lead of Newington, whose town council recently yanked its support for the busway as well.

The only opponent of the City Councilai??i??s decision was Mayor Art Ward, who did nothing to try to convince colleagues they were wrong.

Instead, Ward said he was obligated to continue his support for the busway after promising New Britain Mayor Tim Stewart and others last winter that he would go along with the project out of a spirit of regional cooperation.

Mike Nicastro, head of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, said Wednesday he was ai???absolutely thrilledai??? to have the cityai??i??s backing for the rail alternative.

ai???Iai??i??m very, very proud of that,ai??? Nicastro said.

Supporters of the busway argue that itai??i??s crucial to the economic development of New Britain and Hartford, important to Central Connecticut State University and a good way to use lots of federal money to create construction jobs in the region soon.

But Bristolai??i??s Transportation Commission, after reviewing the plans, said that its use of the old Highland rail right of way between New Britain and Newington would gut hopes for the revival of rail travel between Hartford and Waterbury.

In a statement endorsed by city councilors, the panel said the busway ai???will negatively alter the ability to improve the transportation landscape of the City of Bristol and adversely affect its future; especially its economic future.ai???

Alford said that creating the busway would ai???hurt Bristol while not building the busway will not hurt New Britain.ai???

She also questioned its cost and whether promised federal funds would ever arrive.

City Councilor Kevin Fuller said the cityai??i??s position would be delivered Thursday in person to Gov. Dannel Malloy, who has the power to kill the busway.


Comments are closed.