Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and other high-quality bus-based transit systems can deliver fast, comfortable, and cost-effective services, through a combination of dedicated lanes; off-board fare collection and expanded use of smart cards; and fast and frequent operations. Because high-quality bus systems include features similar to light rail and metro systems, they are more convenient and reliable than regular bus services, and are able to avoid causes of delay that typically slow regular bus services, such as being stuck in traffic and queuing to pay on board.
- Action has direct focus on passenger transport, although the planning of high-quality bus systems requires the resolution of potential freight transport conflicts (i.e. delivery times and locations).
- Action has direct focus on bus transport, though successful high-quality bus systems are often coordinated with connections to metro or light rail transport, and improvements to cycling and pedestrian facilities.
- BRT projects registered in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) pipeline as of June 2011 have the potential to reduce more than 12.2 million tons of CO2 equivalent during their crediting periods, a 40% reduction over baseline conditions. Implementation of TransMilenio in Bogota, combined with new regulations on fuel quality, is estimated to save nearly 1 million tons of CO2 per year.
- By reducing local pollutants, Metrobús Line 1 in Mexico City eliminates more than 6,000 days of lost work, 12 new cases of chronic bronchitis, and three deaths, saving an estimated USD $3 million per year. In Seoul, proximity to a BRT station increases property values by 5 to 10%, and rental prices decrease 1.3% for every minute of walking time from a BRT station.
Status of deployment:
- BRT systems currently operate in more than 200 global cities, and have traditionally been implemented in the developing world, notably in Latin America and Asia, to provide high-capacity and high-quality transport at a fraction of the cost of metro rail systems. Bogota’s TransMilenio system helped galvanize support for a national plan to expand BRT to eight other Colombian cities.
- Improving public transport systems (i.e. by decreasing travel times and improving transport services), could achieve a significant modal shift from private vehicle travel. The most cost-effective urban transport strategy is often improvements to bus operations, by replacing inefficiently run small buses with high capacity, fuel efficient buses operated on dedicated rights-of-way.
- Globally more than 200 cities have adopted Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems with over 5,300 BRT lane kilometers already in operation. These systems often lead to more efficient utilization of scarce street space in terms of person-movements per meter of roadway. By improving public transport systems, a 0.1% to 15% reduction in transport emissions could be achieved by 2030.
- Recent evidence suggests that development of 1,000 km of BRT lines in 15–20 cities across India within six years and would result in significant socio-economic-environmental benefits between 2013 and 2032 including the following:
- 1,100 to 1,350 reduced traffic fatalities per year;
- 1.9 to 2.3 million tons per year of CO2 emissions reduction;
- Annual savings of 300 tons of black carbon;
- US$6.4 to 8.1 billion in macroeconomic benefits (over 20 years);
- 50,000 to 90,000 short-term jobs, rising to 128,000 permanent new jobs;
- More than 175 avoided deaths annually because of improved air quality;
- More than USD $500,000 in annually avoided crop losses due to air pollution;
- 500 million hours/year of time savings because of shortened trips.
- The TransMilenio BRT system in Bogotá has decreased average travel times by 32%, increased property values along the main line by 15-20%, and improved the health and safety of the community. The Guangzhou Bus Rapid Transit System yields a projected saving of 84,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year and reduces 14 tons of particulate matter annually.
- It is important, however, to note that not all public transport investment has the same potential to reduce CO2 emissions. Poorly designed systems, which shift few motorized trips away from higher carbon modes of transport may cost more in embedded GHGs to build than they reduce over their lifetime of operations. Poorly operated services may produce higher CO2 emissions per passenger-km than competing private motor vehicle transportation.