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BRT is a fraud (so is Rapid Bus)

A quick hit from Orphan Road in Seattle; excerpts:

BRT is neither cheaper nor faster to build. No matter what you might say about a mixed system or buses needed as feeders or matching the traffic requirements with the market, at the end of the day, BRT is most likely to be a fraud.

I'll let other people be "reasonable" and concede that, if you grant a lot of things that never will happen, BRT "might" work. When I look around at all these existing BRT implementations and find delay, financial ruin, and angry riders, I've had enough. BRT is a fraud.

Also of note from the BRT example city of Curitiba are these scalability problems courtesy of The Overhead Wire:

During peak hours, buses on the main routes are already arriving at almost 30-second intervals; any more buses, and they would back up. While acknowledging his iconoclasm in questioning the sufficiency of Curitiba’s trademark bus network, Schmidt nevertheless says a light-rail system is needed to complement it.

All of this (and more) applies to Rapid Bus. The investment is high - and the payoff is nearly zero; you're still stuck with an awful vehicle that can't get through traffic congestion like light rail does all over the country. No wonder the highway guys push for BRT (and its dumber sibling, Rapid Bus) so much - it's not a threat to them. The Feds are pushing it now because the Bush guys have finally wrecked the FTA - but that doesn't make it a good idea; it makes it something to pretend to consider until saner hands take the till.

Capital Metro needs to cut this out right now and put this money into something that works - like the light rail proposal which, unlike Rapid Bus, is at least something that has worked in other cities and can insulate us from diesel costs in the future.

This entry was posted in the following categories: 2008 Light Rail , Austin , Funding of Transportation , Rapid Bus Ain't Rapid , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Texas Republicans Hate Cities , Transit in Austin , Transportation


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Come on Mike I take you as more logical than this.

First there's no real data in the first link, only conjecture. Why won't seattle's rapid bus system come online until 7 years? There's no good reason i know of, other than their Transit Authority not putting their attention on it.
As for Boston, of course you have to ask yourself the questions about boston's dig. Wouldn't that have happened with or without this BRT? If so then why is that part of the cost? If you answer because infrastructure is part of the cost of rail, you've hit my argument on the head, because BRT doesn't normally require the infrastructure amount that Rail does. Plus, it's still cheaper than our Commuter Rail, who's using existing infrastructure.

and on the Second Link,

If Buses are showing up every 30seconds, then how would light rail make this any better? Would it magically allow for trains(which stop and start slower than buses) to show up every 15 seconds?

I know you don't like buses, but I tend to hold you in higher regard than a post like this would indicate. How about some real numbers and not just conjecture that supports your idealism?

The outcome of actual BRT/Rapid Bus deployments is inevitably poor - while the outcome of rail deployments is almost always good. That's very relevant.

Boston shows that the Feds are pushing for BRT even where rail makes a hell of a lot more sense - the tunnel for rail is already there, if you read carefully.

As for Curitiba, the point is that you can carry far more people per vehicle on a train - they wouldn't NEED to run at 30 second headways to carry that many folks on trains.

Matt you have buses and electric rail turned around. Buses start and stop slower than rail due to the internal combustion engine. The acceleration for rail is several meters per second faster and more efficient than that of buses.

The bi articulated Curitiba buses are also 88 feet long. A typical one car Siemens LRV is 95 feet. Two car trains can carry 400 people.


Show me your data. You can state that, but show me. I could tell you the sky has no pollution in it just the same, but I couldn't show you data on it. Without data, it's just an idealistic outlook.

I'm pretty confused, as it seems you are, why they don't just use the old tunnel. It would seem even if you're running buses' you'd use the existing tube. So, I'd have to imagine there's good reason for not using it. Maybe structurally it's deficient?

As for Curitiba, well that's true, but it would also take longer to board on the train, so you'd probably still need that frequency. I mean if these buses are running thirty seconds apart, that's pretty close to each other and would look alot like a train on the road, with the occasional car in between. Which btw is one of the biggest benefits and largest banes of BRT. The fact that on the same infrastructure you can move cars and buses. So while the bus isn't utilizing a space a car can. Where as with trains that rail is sitting dormant.


Where do you get your data that rail is faster on acceleration? While I will give you that the Diesel/Electric engines that all modern trains utilize puts out much more torque, you still have to get past the 1 to 1 friction ratio of steel on steel. Also, more and more bus companies are looking at or producing Diesel Electric buses' so that won't be a factor. Rubber on Asphalt is superior for starting and stopping. I would even put my truck up against the commuter rail in a race for stopping and starting and I don't have a sports truck either.

Also, if you took off the limiters we put on our buses it would be alot faster, but unlike rail, buses have higher regulations on the amount of pollution they can produce, so they legally can't. If you put the same regulations on train engines(which are off-road diesels running off-road diesel[much much higher Sulfur content]) then you'd see alot of the same issues. Which of course would be compounded by the steel on steel friction issue.

Matt, I don't accept homework assignments from folks who have already made up their mind, as you and Skaggs clearly have. But for one obvious point, trains can board, actually, much quicker than buses do - this is something inherently obvious to anybody who's spent any time on transit systems in the real world.

The great innovation in Curitiba regarding boarding was getting buses to the point where they could board half as fast as a train, instead of being ten times as slow.

Sigh. When you wake up and realize that modern light rail and streetcars are run using overhead wires and not diesel electric engines, then come and ask me to do homework Matt. Use the google.

Here's my understanding of the Silver Line tunnel question. Originally the MBTA did want to use the old Tremont Street portal for the Silver Line. The community somewhat-violently opposed this, because they want that tunnel reused for rail some day (its original use was on the Green Line precursor).
So, rather than take the correct hint from the community, the MBTA just said "ok, we'll reserve the tunnel... but build *another* one!"

My impression of why the MBTA is pushing for this: What this all comes down to is that the MBTA desperately wants to connect the "good" Silver Line under the waterfront to the Washington Street "Silver Lie" segment. Back when the Orange Line was rerouted, the MBTA promised Roxbury residents that they'd get an adequated replacement for Washington Street. The current stuck-in-traffic Silver Line segment there is a joke, and Roxbury once again gets the shaft from the T. The only way the MBTA can head off a nasty lawsuit is for them to at least connect that Washington Street segment to the somewhat-better waterfront segment. Therefore, they will pull anything they can to connect those two segments and "claim victory" on Washington Street. Otherwise they would have to admit that the Washington Street Silver Line is a failure and build a good light rail solution for Washington Street.

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