This paper discusses the key elements of a modern design of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Most travellers value the characteristics of metro, LRT and trams but not all cities can afford the high levels of investment and subsidies required to implement and operate them. This does not mean that these cities cannot design modern and high performance systems based on bus technology.
These BRT systems go well beyond conventional bus operations but their design requires careful consideration of the traffic engineering issues at bus lanes and stops/stations, priority at junctions, physical and fare integration and, above all, the willingness of customers to interchange.
The paper introduces some key elements of BRT design and uses the case of Transmilenio, in Bogotá, Colombia, to illustrate its advantages. There, a system costing € 5.3 per km is operating at high commercial speeds (around 27 km/h) and offering the high capacities needed (over 30,000 passenger per hour and direction). This is in contrast with metro and LRT systems costing considerably more.
This breakthrough in public transport technology is a result of a combination of factors: improved bus technology and design, improved understanding of the traffic operations at bus stops, the development of low cost control systems, the use of off-bus payment systems, fast boarding and alighting facilities, and detailed modelling techniques to assist the design of such systems to optimal performance.