Public transport systems are increasingly aiming at providing an integrated service for the user. In these systems, BRT is a key component since it can provide a fast trip to users in congested urban setting. The promise of BRT is not just that it can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of a rail-based system and considerably faster, but also that it can provide an equivalent level of service and capacity. This combination of cost and performance leads to the growing global interest in BRT as an urban passenger transport solution in situations typified by maximum peak hour ridership often in the range 7,000 to 45,000 passengers per hour per direction.
As discussed in Chapter Fifteen, public transit should be designed, implemented, and evaluated as a system. BRT can either play the role of a main structural spine of the system or of a high capacity feeder from the periphery into a rail network. In cities without an integrated system BRT can also be implemented on its own, but as a building block toward a full system. In any of these cases, the basic unit of BRT is a corridor; its potential to attract demand and to offer a high level of service depends on the characteristics of the corridor.
Using the corridor as a unit of analysis is limiting since it does not address overall system performance. But corridor performance measures can provide valuable insight into how to improve operations on existing BRT corridors and act as inputs into the decisions around new corridors. Understanding the relationship between the operational performance of a corridor and its design characteristics is crucial when planning, designing and implementing a BRT corridor.
In this chapter we identify key performance measures and focus our analysis on ridership and operational performance. For the latter, we discuss how to improve speed, frequency, vehicle load, and reliability. The results are based on studies with samples from BRT systems around the world.
Of course, the urban context of any BRT corridor affects its performance. In some contexts some of the high productivity opportunities could be much harder to implement than in others. Thus, corridor planners need to consider their local conditions in addition to these results.