March 26, 2010 – On February 22, EMTRAC’s own Jim Jarzab summarized the current state of BRT practices during his opening remarks at the Urban Transport World conference in Sydney, Australia.
As Co-Chair of the NTCIP 1211 Emergency Vehicle Preemption and Transit Signal Priority standards committee, Jim Jarzab is a valuable resource about the specific strategies available to municipalities looking to implement a cost-effective Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Mr. Jarzab’s remarks included the following points:
“Many notable BRT projects have been developed around the world over the past two decades. Up to this point, the most successful projects have operated on exclusive rights-of-way in a manner, and at a comparable cost, to light rail. This comparison has often led to debates regarding the relative merits of investments in light rail transit compared to BRT.
“Advances in electronic data storage and information-processing speeds have allowed for transit operators in virtual rights-of-way using advanced vehicle location and identification (AVL/AVI), as well as sophisticated traffic control software, to replicate the safety and functionality of exclusive rights-of-way without the physical structures and resulting adverse community impacts. Sometimes called ‘rapid bus’, these BRT applications greatly expand the effective range of faster bus operations with enhanced schedule adherence, giving the traveling public better service with minimal investment in additional land or other infrastructure.
“These Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) components expand the sites suitable for successful BRT applications by an order of magnitude. Modern public transportation services are no longer restricted to large metropolitan areas with significant political influence and abandoned rail rights-of-way available to exploit. With apologies to Churchill: ‘This is not the end, or even the beginning of the end but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’ with respect to BRT development.”