The urbanization of the world is advancing at a rapid pace. More and more people are moving from rural to urban areas, with 66% of the global population living in cities by 2050. Traffic jams, long travelling times, noise, and air pollution are significant problems as cities already struggle with an infrastructure incapable of handling masses of people and current traffic volumes. This threatens a future collapse of the entire system. A possibility to avoid this scenario is to strengthen public transportation. But how? Trams and underground trains are expensive and require a long construction time. Busses on the other hand don’t offer a lot of benefits to car owners. They are stuck in the same traffic jams and are therefore just as slow as cars. The answer: A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
Bus Rapid Transit is a Fast and Affordable Alternative
BRT-systems are cheaper, more flexible and a lot faster to construct than rail-bound systems. A BRT system has lanes that are separate from the regular traffic, with its own traffic light system. The platforms are at the same level as the busses, and ticket vending machines are available at every station. Because of these features, Bus Rapid Transit offers its passengers speed and comfort. The busses can bypass traffic jams because of their own lanes. And the ticketing machines avoid the need to buy tickets on board, which often leads to delays. Because of the height of the platforms, the stations are easily accessible for all and entry to the bus is simpler.
As a result, the busses aren’t dependent of the traffic anymore – and that leads to an improvement in timeliness. A BRT-system combines the affordable costs and flexibility of busses with the speed of rail-bond systems. In the end, many commuters and inhabitants of bigger cities will choose public transportation over their cars. This results in a decreasing traffic volume, less air pollution and reduced noise in the cities. Especially in South America, Bus Rapid Transit systems have overtaken the role of underground systems in many cities.
BRT: A Chance for New Technologies
This form of local public transportation also offers lots of chances for new technologies like automated driving. In Amsterdam for example, Mercedes-Benz already performed test drives with automated busses on a 20 kilometres long stretch of the city’s BRT-route. Automated busses are more energy-saving, easier on their engines, and are able to recognize and avoid accidents early. Equipped with alternate powertrains like electricity or hydrogen, the busses could travel emission-free locally and therefore help to reduce the levels of air pollution in cities.
BRT-Systems Offer Lots of Benefits for Urban Logistics
Bus Rapid Transit offers a lot of benefits: It is relatively cheap and fast to implement, able to reduce air pollution, reduces the traffic volume, and most importantly, it is a quick way to travel in the city. Lots of BRT-systems have already been implemented and have proven successful in metropolises like Yichang, Belo Horizonte, Bogota, and Johannesburg. This offers interested cities lots of data and information on costs, usability and effectivity. As a result they are able to analyze this data in advance and can decide if BRT-corridors are useful to them, where they should be implemented and how long they should be.
Hero image source: Daimler