Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Silly Argument Over BRT and Rail: US Perspectives

The following sensible commentary from our friends over at The transport Politic helps put this "competition" into perspective.  Silly being an entirely apt word in this context.

May 25th, 2011 | 57 Comments

» Reserving respect for each mode.

As if operating in parallel, Toronto’s Globe and Mail and The Wall Street Journal each published articles last week describing the merits of bus rapid transit, which each newspaper described as the future of urban transportation.

Both noted that BRT was cheaper to construct than rail lines. Each suggested that in an age of government pull backs and general skepticism over the value of public investment, BRT could offer substantial benefits to a transit system at a reasonable price. And each article concluded with a warning by rail proponents that buses wouldn’t be able to attract people out of their cars.

This is a sensationalized opposition between two modes of transportation that should be thought of as complementary. There are advantages to improved bus service in some corridors, reasons to support rail in others.

What is clear is that for the majority of American cities — excluding only a few in the Northeast — buses will remain the predominant mode of public transit for most riders, even after major expansions in train networks planned for cities from Charlotte to Phoenix. So even cities that choose to invest in rail projects must also spend on the improvement of their bus lines.

Nor is the difference in costs between rail lines and BRT nearly as great as some would argue. . . .

For the full text of this article click here.

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The Transport Politic is written, edited, designed, and produced by Yonah Freemark. He is solely responsible for the content on this site unless otherwise noted. You can contact him at yfreemark [at] thetransportpolitic [dot] com.

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