BRT Research

As requested by the FTA, the National BRT Institute conducts new research in areas related to BRT and will develop “best practices” manuals and tools that assist BRT community members.  Topic areas for further research may come from FTA, through Committees of TRB or APTA, or directly from the BRT community.  These ideas are then formally discussed and prioritized by the NBRTI Advisory Board at an annual meeting.  This prioritization will be used to help guide the research program efforts.

NBRTI Research Reports and Presentations

Community-Oriented BRT : Urban Design, Amenities, and Placemaking
The purpose of this report is to provide a useful resource for communities that wish to learn how others have successfully used BRT as a tool for enhancing the public realm. Information for this effort was gathered through a literature review, in-depth profiles of three BRT systems, and a detailed questionnaire that was administered to transit agencies in the United States, Canada, and Australia. While the literature review provides historical background on the relationship between transit projects and the public realm, the questionnaire focuses specifically on the interaction between BRT and public space. The system profiles provide a detailed account of the Los Angeles Orange Line, Cleveland’s HealthLine, and the EmX in Eugene, Oregon, along with recommendations and lessons learned. It should be noted that this report does not attempt to offer detailed instructions of the type that would be found in design manuals or other highly technical literature. Rather, the focus is on sharing the experiences of agencies that have been successful in designing and building community value into BRT projects.


LYMNO BRT : 15 Years Later Report

LYMMO bus rapid transit (BRT) service began in August 1997 in Orlando, Florida, as one of the first bus-based premium downtown circulators in the
United States. This report is a follow-up of the initial evaluation conducted in 2003. Average daily ridership on LYMMO has fallen three years in a row since 2010, and 2012 ridership was lower than the opening year ridership. The drop in ridership is partially attributable to a 15 percent loss in jobs located within a ¼ mile of LYMMO between 2002 and 2010. LYMMO, nevertheless, continues to rank as one of LYNX Transit’s top five routes.

Cedar Avenue Driver Assist System Evaluation Report

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) received $4.2 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to develop a lane guidance system for bus-only shoulder operations along Cedar Avenue (Trunk Highway 77). Referred to as the Driver Assist System (DAS), it is a GPS-based technology suite that provides lane position feedback to the driver via a head-up display, virtual mirror, vibrating seat, and actuated steering. MVTA’s primary goal in developing the DAS was to enhance driver confidence in operating buses in shoulders, particularly during bad weather. Secondary goals included reduced travel times, increased reliability, safety, and customer satisfaction. The evaluation measured six broad areas of performance: bus driver satisfaction, customer satisfaction, efficiency/productivity, technical performance, maintenance, and safety. When the DAS was activated, bus drivers stayed in the shoulders 10 percent longer and drove 3 miles per hour faster, on average. Lateral (side-to-side) movement was reduced by 5.5 inches.

BRT Applications Report – Phase II

The Bus Rapid Transit Applications Phase 2 Report was prepared by the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute and Parsons Brinckerhoff on behalf of District 4 of the Florida Department of Transportation. This report is intended to support the development of BRT in Broward County in correlation with the Broward MPO 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan. The report profiles eight U.S. BRT systems: the Cleveland HealthLine, the Eugene EmX, the Kansas City MAX, the Los Angeles Metro Rapid system and Orange Line, the San Pablo Rapid, the Boston Silver Line, and the Las Vegas MAX. The summary for each BRT system contains six parts: project background, costs, before and after performance, system characteristics, lessons learned, and future plans. Under system characteristics, information is provided on the running way, stations, vehicles, method of fare collection, ITS technologies, service and operations, and branding.

Miami Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) Pines Boulevard Transit Signal Priority Evaluation Report

The Miami Urban Partnership Agreement included the conversion of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-95 to high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and additional express bus service. It also included funding for the installation of transit signal prioritization (TSP) at 50 intersections on Pines/Hollywood and Broward Boulevards in Broward County. This report summarizes the findings of TSP data collection on Pines/Hollywood Blvd. from December 2010 to February 2011. The data showed an average time savings of 4 minutes in the AM peak period due to TSP, which amounted to a 12 percent reduction in travel times. On-time performance improved from 66.7 percent to 75 percent. In the PM peak period, the travel time and signal delay were similar with or without the TSP activated. This could be an indication that afternoon traffic volumes on westbound Pines/Hollywood Blvd. are so heavy that TSP is of only marginal benefit.

Evaluation of the Cleveland HealthLine Mechanical Guide Wheel

Vehicles on the Cleveland HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system are equipped with a mechanical docking arm and guide wheel to assist with precision docking at the stations. This report documents the evaluation of the guide wheel in 4 areas: how close to the platform the vehicles were able to dock; how fast the vehicles were able to dock; how much money was spent on damages related to docking; and how well the guide wheels are regarded by the HealthLine drivers. The evaluation compared the performance of the HealthLine to the EmX BRT in Eugene, Oregon. The EmX uses the same model vehicle as the HealthLine but does not come equipped with a docking arm and guide wheel.

Miami UPA Phase 1 Transit Evaluation Report

This report summarizes the impacts to the 95 Express Bus Service from Phase 1 of the I-95 Express Lanes Project in Miami-Dade County. This project was an HOV to HOT conversion funded by the USDOT’s Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) Program and began in December 2008. Phase 1 consists of bi-directional, dynamically priced tolls lanes in the median of I-95 between State Road 112 and the Golden Glades Interchange. The 95 Express Bus Service operates in these lanes. The report concludes that the 95 Express Bus Service has benefitted from the HOV to HOT conversion in improved travel times and on-time performance. It has attracted a large percentage of choice riders, and ridership has grown despite rising unemployment in Miami-Dade County. The on-board transit surveys revealed that the 95 Express Lanes Project did influence riders’ decisions to take transit.

Property Value Impacts of BRT

This report is among the first in recent years in the United States to examine property value impacts from proximity to BRT stations. A hedonic regression model was estimated to isolate the effect of distance from a BRT station on property values of single-family homes along the Pittsburgh Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busway. Statistically significant, positive property value impacts were found near BRT stations; these impacts are relatively small in magnitude and similar to impacts found from rail transit, as expected.

Bus Rapid Transit and Development: Policies and Practices that Affect Development Around Transit

This research discusses current or potential development impacts along BRT corridors in North America, and the policies and practices that have been implemented within each respective city that has the ability to affect development patterns around transit. To allow for further consideration in regard to equitable implementation and allocation of policies and incentives for development between BRT and LRT, the cities that were selected for discussion are those in which both modes operate.

Bus Lane with Intermittent Priority (BLIMP) Concept Simulation Analysis

This report discusses the results of a preliminary implementation study to determine the potential impacts of a new and innovative transit priority treatment along a BRT corridor in Eugene, Oregon. The bus lane with intermittent priority (BLIMP) utilizes dynamic lane assignment to designate an exclusive bus lane on a temporary, bus-actuated basis. The temporary lane is designated via overhead variable message signs and in-ground dynamic lane markings.

Quantifying the Importance of Image and Perception to Bus Rapid Transit

This report presents the findings of a research project designed to quantify the importance of image and perception to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), by identifying the different tangible and intangible service attributes that influence aggregate public perceptions of BRT and other transit modes.  The report concludes that BRT (even in its lower investment forms) can compete with rail-based transit (at least in the perception of the general public) in return for lower capital cost investments.
Low resolution version available

2008 India Trip Report

A report has been published which details the FTA Mission to India in September 2008. Led by Mr. James Simpson, previous FTA Administrator, the mission was a follow up to the 2007 visit, and included visits to Delhi, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

2007 Moscow Conference Proceedings

A proceedings document has been developed by NBRTI/CUTR to report the findings of the 5th International Workshop on Public Transportation, which convened in Moscow in May 2007. This technical conference was organized to provide a forum for transportation officials from Russia and the United States to share knowledge and experience in relation to four identified transportation themes.

India Trip Report

This report summarizes the activities associated with the FTA Mission to India, undertaken in September 2007. Featuring visits to Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai, the mission provided the U.S. delegation with the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of India ‘s ambitious plans for the expansion of its transportation infrastructure. A highlight of the mission was the ratification of a Memorandum of Cooperation that formalizes the commitment made between the two countries to future collaboration in the field of public transportation science and technology.

Advanced Network Planning for Bus Rapid Transit

A report commissioned by the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute, and conducted by The Mission Group in San Diego, evaluates the issue of network planning for Bus Rapid Transit. The report compares the “Light Rail Lite” model of BRT implementation, which is predominant in the United States, with the “Quickway” model, which has been shown to be highly successful in Ottawa, Canada and Brisbane, Australia.

South American Report

This report shows how the implementation of new BRT systems in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Pereira, Colombia, and the continued expansion of the iconic TransMilenio system in Bogotá, Colombia, illustrates the continued successful evolution of the “Bogotá Model”. The report was completed following a technical tour of these three cities in February 2007, sponsored by NBRTI, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and Breakthrough Technologies Institute (BTI).

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Bogota Report

NBRTI published a report on the TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit system in Bogotá, Colombia, discussing its applicability to the U.S transit context.

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BRT Developments in China

NBRTI has published a report on BRT developments in China and how the United States and China may mutually benefit from research cooperation

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Other Industry Research

Toward a Spatial Perspective on Niche Development: The Case of Bus Rapid Transit – Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 2015

Understanding the Voting Preferences for Pubilc Transport and Perceptions and Preferences for Bus Rapid Transit Versus Light Rail – Journal of Transport Economics 2014

BRT TOD: Leveraging Transit Oriented Development with Bus Rapid Transit Investments – Transport Policy 2014

Ridership Estimation for an Existing Transit Corridor with New Bus Rapid Transit Service – Transportation Research Board 2014

Recapturing Global Leadership in Bus Rapid Transit written by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)

Buses with a High Level of Service by the Center for the Study of Urban Planning, Transport and Public Facilities discusses the implementation of high capacity and reliable bus service.

TCRP Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner’s Guide explores the costs, impacts, and effectiveness of implementing selected bus rapid transit (BRT) components

TCRP Report 117: Design, Operation, and Safety of At-Grade Crossings of Exclusive Busways explores planning, designing, and operating various kinds of busways through roadway intersections

TCRP Report 90: Bus Rapid Transit Volume I, identifies the potential range of bus rapid transit (BRT) applications through 26 case studies and provides planning and implementation guidelines for BRT. This report will be useful to policy-makers, chief executive officers, senior managers, and planners. Volume II offers implementation guidelines.

BRT Vehicle Compendium – a compendium of vehicles and powertrain systems for BRT service (WestStart-CALSTART, 2006)

World Bank Accessibility Guidelines – accessibility guidelines that follow the travel path for a full feature BRT system