Videos

Why Bus Rapid Transit Is Particularly Good for Developing Countries

In places like Istanbul and Mexico City, BRT is cleaning the air and saving commute time.

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EMBARQ

The international transportation policy group EMBARQ has just released a great new short video highlighting the benefits of bus rapid transit systems in Mexico City and Istanbul. The video illustrates some of the findings in the organization's detailed recent report, Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of BRT Systems.

BRT can be particularly useful in developing countries because it can bring (or extend) many of the benefits of rail transit systems – speed, predictability, priority, comfort – while requiring considerably less capital investment. The key to success is assigning dedicated travel lanes to the BRT vehicles so they avoid congestion, and committing to modern stations at appropriate intervals with streamlined fare collection and boarding (see photo at top).

Nine hundred thousand passengers per day ride the Mexico City BRT, which supplements the city’s Metro rail system. EMBARQ says BRT has reduced accidents and air emissions, including reductions of 690 tons of nitrogen oxide, 2.8 tons of fine particulate matter, 144 tons of hydrocarbons and 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, compared to previous levels. BRT has also improved mobility on bus routes by 50 percent, reduced accidents by 30 percent and shifted an estimated 6 percent of travelers from private vehicles to public transport, says the group’s report.

In Istanbul, EMBARQ says that the average passenger on Metrobüs saves 28 workdays per year in reduced travel times compared to alternative forms of transport; the line uses dedicated space in the median of the city’s D100 freeway and operates at near-highway speeds. Bridging Asia and Europe, Istanbul's system is the first BRT in the world to provide intercontinental service. The system serves 600,000 passengers daily.

Here’s the video.  Enjoy:

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

  • Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More
    Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.