Stations Are Accessible to Everyone
Bus stations have ramps, making them accessible to the elderly, very young and those with disabilities.
What is Bus Rapid Transit?
Bus rapid transit is the name given to sophisticated bus systems that have their own lanes on city streets. These systems use bus stations instead of bus stops, a design feature that allows passengers to pay before boarding the bus. This allows for faster, more orderly boardings, similar to those of metro or light rail systems. Stations also have elevated boarding platforms level with the bus floors so passengers don't need to climb steps to get on the bus. For the passengers convenience, electronic signage tells users when the next bus is arriving.
When compared to traditional bus systems, bus rapid transit is fast, efficient, safe, and user-friendly.
No Cars Allowed
Special bus-only lanes allow buses to move freely even when traffic is heavy.
Raised platforms, pre-paid fares and multiple doorways reduce boarding times and improve access.
Metrobus in Mexico City bypasses congestion. Photo by EMBARQ.
A Brief History
The fist bus rapid transit system was in Curitiba, Brazil. Photo by Thomas Hobbes.
In 1972, Jaime Lerner, then Mayor of Curitiba had a brilliant idea to transform the face of his city. Lerner was an architect and urban planner by training and when he ascended to power he brought the tools of a designer to the mayor’s office. At the time Curitiba was a small but rapidly expanding city in the south of Brazil and his aim was to develop a plan for the city that could accommodate growth without the sprawl and congestion that were beginning to plague other cities in Brazil.
His plan, which would later be replicated throughout the world, called for an above-ground subway system that would use buses instead of rail. Up to this point buses were used in ways that most of us are familiar with; they ran in the same lanes as other traffic, picked up passengers at designated stops, and charged passengers a fare once that had boarded.
Bus rapid transit has been so instrumental in Curitiba’s fight against congestion and sprawl, that the chairman of Habitat II, the Union Nations second conference on human settlements, called it “the most innovative cities in the world.” Naturally, other cities are beginning to take note. Under the leadership of Mayor Enrique Penalosa, Bogota, Colombia recently followed in Curitaba’s footsteps, developing Transmilenio, a bus rapid transit system with 7 corridors, which has become the pride and joy of the city. In Mexico City, where EMBARQ has been involved, the city is looking to expand its single corridor of bus rapid transit to a full-fledged network of 10 lines. Quito, Ecuador also has an advanced system. And a smattering of other cities throughout the world have incorporated many of the components of bus rapid transit into their own bus operations.
Low-emission vehicles and shorter boarding times reduce passengers' exposure to harmful pollutants.
Advanced information systems tell users when the next bus is coming.
High-capacity buses and efficient payment systems make for cheaper fares.
An Affordable Choice
Many cities are now choosing bus rapid transit for two important reasons: cost and convenience. The cost of building a heavy rail system like a subway reach as much as 10 times that of bus rapid transit. Light rail, common throughout Europe, is cheaper than heavy rail, but still runs more than 4 times the cost of bus rapid transit. What’s more, cities that opt for bus rapid transit can see the results of their work immediately; installing a system can take just two years. By contrast, building a below ground metro can drag on for a decade.