The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Monday, November 25, 2002

Orlando BRT - Presentation of the Pro Case

Bus Rapid Transit:
A Sustainable Approach
to Mass Transit
Bhavik Shah
What is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)?
Elements of BRT
Curitiba, Brazil: The Success Story
Applicability to the United States

What is BRT?
Bus Rapid Transit uses a variety of innovative system designs and technologies to speed travel time, cut costs and make service more reliable.
“Think rail, use buses.”
These objectives are reached by:
Lane priority
Signal priority
Vehicle design
Stop spacing and design
Fare collection
Rider appeal
Land use policy

Lane Priority
Giving buses priority to lanes (HOV) speeds travel time.
Three types of priority lanes: curbside, median, and contraflow.
Curbside bus lanes are usually effective during peak hours in peak directions; otherwise the lane is reserved for parking and deliveries. Since bus stops are in this lane, buses do not waste time remerging with traffic. Double curbside bus lanes allow them to pass one another (e.g. Madison Ave in NYC).
Median Lanes
Bus lanes are located in the middle two lanes of traffic, usu. separated from general traffic lanes by a raised curb.
Only appropriate for wide boulevards.
Passenger platforms on right. There can be one central platform, but buses then must have doors on both sides.
Less likely to be congested than curbside bus lanes.
Disadvantages are: 1) making left turns, and 2) passengers must cross lanes of traffic to reach platforms creating a safety concern, esp. passengers anxious to catch an approaching bus.
Contraflow Lanes
A contraflow lane is a bus lane that runs in the opposite direction in what would otherwise be a one-way street.
These contraflow lanes can be used during peak times of the day to avoid traffic congestion or can be permanent.
They have a physical divide to only allow authorized vehicles through.
Traffic Signal Priority
Special treatment to transit vehicles at signalized intersections.
Passive priority: timing signal lights with respect to avg. bus speed rather than avg. vehicle speed.
Active priority: uses chips on the bus and light to calculate the speed of bus and time of approach, and depending on traffic situation at the time, to either give an early green signal or hold one that is being displayed.
Queue jumpers: short stretch of bus lane combined with traffic signal priority to cut queues of traffic and receive a green signal.
Vehicle Design
Low level boarding: faster boarding time for all passengers, namely those in wheelchairs, which means shorter dwelling time at the bus stop.
Adding additional and wider doorways facilitates the rapid entry and exit of passengers (32 in. allows for easy access for those in mobility aids).
Additional and wider doorways must be integrated with the structural support systems to maintain crash worthiness.
Buses can be bi-/articulated with two or three sections capable of transporting 170-270 passengers. (Think of the long A, H, and EE buses).
Vehicle Design
cleaner diesel fuel due to stricter EPA standards
compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid electric-diesel buses have emerged as viable alternatively fueled vehicles
Low noise and emission pollution—to make the buses “sexy.”
Stop Spacing and Location
Stop spacing affects demand for transit service.
Tradeoff between: (a) closely spaced, frequent stops and shorter walking distance, but more time on the vehicle and (b) stops spaced further apart and longer walking distance, but less time on the vehicle.
Stop locating can be near side, far side, or mid-block.
BRT systems with active signal priority and queue jumpers should place stops at the far side, allowing for effective use of these measures. It also clears the bus through the intersection with minimal delay.
If the stop was on the near side, queue jumpers would be not be used, and the bus would have to merge with queue traffic on the curbside lane for the stop. Consequently, the bus would be delayed by at least one signal cycle.
Stop Location
If bus stops are bays (think of bus stop across from ARC), there is a delay to remerge with traffic.
Bays are not efficient for BRT systems.
If necessary, located on far side of intersections with tapered deceleration and acceleration lanes.
Priority Merge Rule: all vehicles to yield the right of way, when safe to do so, to buses signaling to reenter the traffic stream a stop.
Rule is common in Europe, Australia, Japan, Oregon, Washington, and Florida.
PMR is BRT-friendly as it reduces waiting times at subsequent stops and decreases travel times for passengers.
Fare Collection
On-board collection increases dwelling time thus decreasing the efficiency of a BRT system.
Monthly passes, smart cards, pre-paid tickets. Incentives for pre-payment is a sharp discounts for multi-trip cards/tickets.
Pay as you board worst during peak hours.
Pay on exit: speeds up boarding at central sites during peak hours, and decreases dwell time as smaller groups exit the bus at the stops.
Free fare zone, loading platforms (staffed), “paid area” terminals (barrier free for transfers), and proof of payment

Rider Appeal
Providing proper information to the customer is crucial for high quality transit information. (aka being user friendly)
Therefore, to increase the appeal of a BRT system, and consequently, ridership, each stop should have:
A stop name.
Route names and destinations for all routes serving the stop.
Span of service and frequency of service.
Service schedule for low-frequency routes.
A system map

Rider Appeal
Onboard schematic maps and automated announcements can assist passengers when/where to board and exit.
Use of real time information of arrival times to be displayed at bus stops, kiosks, etc.
Technology is Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) and is powered by GPS.
Reduces anxiety of waiting.
Market BRT system as being an preferable mode of transportation: color schemes and logos to identify the BRT system (and distinguish it from the regular bus system), stops and stations need appealing architectural and aesthetic designs to attract riders, market faster travel times, new technologies (signals and AVL), and offer coupons.
Land Use Policy
Modifying land use policies to permit growth that is concentrated around transit nodes and corridors will help to maintain and increase transit's base of riders in the future.
Location of stations already near developed sites, e.g. shopping malls, is ideal for optimizing land use with mass transit.
BRT in Use
Several cities across the world are using a BRT system.
These include: Bogotá, Quito, Rouen, London, Sydney, Istanbul, and Taipei.
By far, however, the greatest success story in BRT comes from Curitiba, Brazil.
Curitiba, Brazil
During 1950s and 60s, cities across Brazil experienced rapid population growth due to agricultural mechanization. Curitiba had one of the highest population growths, 6% a yr.
demanded effective city planning in areas ranging from social services, housing and sanitation, to the environment and transportation
By the 1960s, officials were working on a Master Plan (1966) to meet these demands, which included a consolidated bus transit system

Transportation and Development
restructured the city’s radial configuration into a linear model of urban expansion
transportation land use and road systems can be used as integrative tools of development; backbone for development and growth of the city
direct linear growth by attracting residential and commercial density along a mass transportation lane
The Research and Urban Planning Institute of Curitiba (IPPUC) was created to monitor the implementation and operations of the BRT.
The BRT, with its 2,000 buses, serves eight neighboring cities, 2 million passengers, and an approval rating of 90%.
New Infrastructure
Transportation System
Road hierarchy (spider web network)
5 main arterial roads, structural growth corridors that dictate the growth pattern of the city, had two median express bus lanes
By 1982, all 5 arteries, inter-district, and feeder lines were complete.
Types of routes: feeder, interdistrict, and express
Express buses travel as fast as subway cars, but at one eighth the construction costs
As buildings moved away from corridor avenues, the density of the building capacity decreased. (urban apt. buildings to residential homes)
A Fare System
Paper transfers: forgery
Two-fare system for feeder and express: failed because it favored the rich living near the middle
One fare policy: can take you from anywhere within the system (40+ miles worth of travel)
Shorter rides subsidize longer ones.
Installed automatic ticket vendors at stops and terminals to decrease dwell time.
The system is entirely financed by these fares and without any subsidies. A 1990 laws dictates that revenues can only be used to pay for the system. This avoids fare inflation.
Bus and Station Design
Three doors: 2 exiting, 1 boarding
Turbo engines
Wider doors
Lower floors
Bi/Articulated for greater passenger capacity (170-270)
Boarding tube stations along direct and express lines.
Staffed (to deter fare evaders).
Three functions: shelter, pre-boarding payment and level boarding
Speeds boarding time, especially with the disabled, therefore less idling and less pollution

Bus Tube
Some Numbers
340 routes
2,000 buses transport 2 million passengers daily
700 miles of bus routes; 40 miles dedicated to bus use only
25 terminals, 200+ bus tubes
30 routes and buses designed for specific use by the disabled
50-second deadhead (period between buses) at peak times, and 2 to 3 minutes at other times at the central station
first city in Brazil to use less polluting fuels; 89.4% diesel, 8% anhydrous alcohol, and 2.6% soybean additive
The resulting fuel is less polluting and cuts the emissions of particles to the air by up to 43 per cent.

More Numbers
Cost of implementing the bus system in Curitiba was $2.0 million (U.S.) per mile.
10 percent of yearly income on transport.
As a result, despite the second highest per capita car ownership rate in Brazil (one car for every three people), Curitiba's gasoline use per capita is 30 percent below that of eight comparable Brazilian cities.
BRT and Beyond
Curitiba’s public policy has been eco-socio-friendly. Innovative with approach to public life.
In addition to BRT, pedestrian walkways, bike paths, parks, recycling programs, etc. all encourage a greener, healthier city and lifestyle.
BRT in the United States
BRT systems are in place in several American cities including:
Dulles, VA
Eugene-Springfield, OR
Phoenix (planning)
San Francisco

Orlando at a Glance
Opened Aug 1997
BRT improved an already existing transit system serving Orlando
target market is people who drive to downtown Orlando and then use Lymmo to get to other locations, such as the Courthouse, restaurants, shopping, etc
Service offers:
exclusive lanes for the entire 2.3 mile route
signal pre-emption
stations with large shelters and route information
automatic vehicle location (AVL)
next bus arrival information at kiosks
new low-floor compressed natural gas (CNG) buses
marketing and image development through vehicle graphics, stations, advertisements, and business tie-ins
free fare, so no fare collection delay
Fierce marketing to attract riders: theme buses, coupon-of-the-day, etc.
Lymmo System
$1.2 million to operate, 65% more than the Freebee service of 1997.
Because of the even greater increase in ridership, the average cost per boarding decreased from $1.37 for Freebee to $1.14 for Lymmo.
total capital cost of the system was $21 million, of which $3 million was for vehicles, $0.4 million for landscaping, and the remainder for street reconstruction, shelters, information kiosks, AVL, traffic signals, banners, and other expenses
Criticisms to BRT
Curitiba, for example, has far lower labor costs, far fewer environmental controls, and much less stringent bureaucratic review of transportation projects.
politicians want solutions that fit their election cycles; score big with voters by extending past into future (road projects)
America’s car culture
Price on gasoline is cheap, discouraging public transportation as is. (oh yes, this is where Prof. Sunil talks about his famous (or infamous) gas tax)
BRT provides a sustainable, efficient method of mass transit.
Can be used in conjunction with land use and developmental policies to curtail sprawl and guide growth.
Appeal to riders is key for any mass transit system to work—must be attractive and user friendly
Gas tax or DIE! lol

The End

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