Saturday, February 21, 2009

Good practice: A Brazilian solution to mass transport

A Brazilian solution to mass transport

Bus Rapid Transit – and Density Around BRT Stations and Corridors

In 1974, Curitiba began to implement its Bus Rapid Transit system, a word first, proving to the world that high-quality, high-capacity public transport is well within reach of most municipal budgets.

With level and pre-paid boarding, exclusive bus lanes, 100 % accessible stations, feeder and trunk lines, the bus system in Curitiba created a new paradigm for public transport. Transportation experts from outside Brazil dubbed this system “Bus Rapid Transport.”

This system has been copied throughout the world, in cities such as Jakarta, Delhi, Beijing, Istanbul, México City, and Los Angeles. New York is also beginning to implement aspects of BRT to its bus service. The Transmilenio system in Bogota is currently considered to be the most advanced BRT system.

With excellent pré-existing Road infrastructure, BRT is a sure winner in the US. BRT implementation in US cities should be accompanied by zoning that encourages dense, pedestrian and bike-friendly residential and commercial areas around stations and along the corridors. This type of zoning was created along with the BRT in Curitiba and proved to be a success.

Besides the low cost for building, operating and maintaining BRTs, another advantage is that they can be quickly planned and implemented. The 42 kms of Phase I of Bogota's Transmilenio system were planned, implemented and operational in less than three years - from 1998 to 2000.


For a comprehensive (800+ page) look at BRT systems, please access The BRT Planning Guide:

For an overview, the Executive Summary (33 pages) of the BRT Guide is a good start:

Jonas Hagen,

ITDP - Instituto de Política de Transporte e Desenvolvimento,

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.

Print this article

1 comment:

  1. I live in Curitiba and I can say the BRT is really a great system.

    Unfortunately, the investments on the private motorized vehicle are much bigger. Even though there are improvements in the BRT system, the travels are taking more time, the buses are crowded and the comfort is dropping (some articles in portuguese about that). And there are other consequences too.

    Curitiba is a great city but if we don't open our eyes to our problems it won't be like this for too long.


Thank you for your comment. You may wish to check back to the original entry from time to time to see if there are reactions to this. If you have questions, send an email to: