National Academies Press: OpenBook

Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice (2022)

Chapter:Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Page 7
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26597.
Page 8
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26597.
Page 9
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26597.

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7   Introduction This chapter provides information about the purpose of the synthesis effort, the issues to be addressed by the study, the scope of the study (e.g., what is included and what is not), and the study methodology. This chapter also provides selected relevant definitions and explains the organization of the report. Objectives and Scope The purpose of TCRP Synthesis 164 is documenting specific current practices of U.S. and Canadian transportation agencies in using bus rapid transit (BRT) to improve bus service reli- ability, travel time, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and ridership. The focus of the study is on the following topics: • Understanding the interplay between BRT and other transit services, which can manifest in (a) the degree to which BRT infrastructure (e.g., a bus lane) is open to other transit services as well as other transportation modes and (b) impacts on other transit services (e.g., whether the BRT service replaced parallel local service and/or there were changes to other transit services to connect with BRT) • Documenting the extent to which selected BRT investments have been effective in achieving reliability, travel time, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and ridership/productivity goals • Documenting trade-offs that transportation agencies consider in making decisions about how to operate and maintain BRT services Definitions of Key Terms For the purposes of this report, BRT services are defined as “prioritized bus services with a distinctive brand.” They may or may not include features such as dedicated bus lanes, transit priority treatments, all-door or level boarding, and off-board fare collection. To maximize the usefulness of the study to practitioners, this definition of BRT might be broader than the defini- tion used in other studies. The following definitions were adapted from TCRP Report 165: Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, 3rd Edition (Kittelson and Associates, Inc., et al. 2013): • Bus bulb: An extension of the sidewalk into the roadway for passenger loading without the bus pulling into the curb. Gives priority to buses and eases reentry into traffic. Often landscaped and fitted with bus shelter and other passenger amenities. Also called bus bulge, curb bulge, or curb extension. • Bus lane: A highway or street lane reserved primarily for buses, either all day or during specified periods. It may be used by other traffic under certain circumstances, such as making C H A P T E R 1

8 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice a right or left turn, or by taxis, motorcycles, or carpools that meet specific requirements described in the traffic laws of the specific jurisdiction. • Business access and transit (BAT) lane: A semi-exclusive bus lane, or a lane partially reserved for transit use but open to other users (including general traffic) at certain times or in certain locations. • Busway: A special roadway designed for exclusive use by buses. It may be constructed at, above, or below grade and may be located in separate rights-of-way (ROWs) or within highway corridors. Variations include grade-separated, at-grade, and median busways. Sometimes called a transitway if shared with multiple transit services. • High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane: A highway or street lane intended primarily for carpools, vanpools, and HOVs, which can include buses, either all day or during specified periods. • Loading area: A curbside space where a single bus (or other vehicle) can stop to load and unload passengers. A bus stop can include one or more loading areas. • Managed lane: A lane that restricts usage to certain vehicle types (e.g., to buses and carpools or buses and toll-paying vehicles). A managed lane can be located immediately adjacent to general traffic lanes, separated from other traffic by a painted median or pylons, or separated from other traffic by physical barriers. • Queue jump: A short section of exclusive or preferential lane that enables specified vehicles to bypass an automobile queue or a congested section of traffic. A queue jump can be used at signalized intersections or signal-controlled freeway on-ramps in congested urban areas to allow transit or HOVs preference. Also known as a queue jumper, bypass lane, or queue bypass. • Transit signal priority (TSP): A system in which traffic signal timing at intersections is altered to give priority to (and reduce delay to) transit vehicles while maintaining signal coordination along a route and overall signal cycle length at individual intersections. Technical Approach The study team conducted the synthesis studies by means of the following tasks: • Survey. Gather, through a survey and review of recent research, relevant information from U.S. and Canadian transit agencies that have implemented BRT service or features of BRT service to improve bus service travel time, speed, reliability, ridership, productivity, operating costs, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Relevant information includes the following: – Description of BRT service. Service characteristics (e.g., temporal variations and stopping patterns), stop amenities, vehicles, branding, costs, and fare collection (including extent of integration with other modes). – Description of BRT running ways. Type and extent of BRT running way features (e.g., pave- ment treatments) and strategies used to enforce any BRT travel lane restrictions and their effectiveness. – Description of BRT-relevant transit priority treatments. Type and extent of transit priority measures used to support BRT (e.g., dedicated bus lanes and TSP). – Discussion of how BRT is integrated with other transportation modes. Extent to which BRT infrastructure and services are integrated with other transit services and transpor- tation modes. – Operating strategies for BRT. Approaches used to effectively manage service delivery. – Maintenance strategies for BRT. Approaches used to effectively maintain BRT infrastructure and assets. – Impacts of BRT. Documented impacts of BRT components on travel time, speed, reli- ability, ridership, productivity, operating costs, efficiency, and customer satisfaction at the corridor level. – Relevant lessons learned. Lessons learned pertinent to how BRT service is implemented, operated, and maintained.

Introduction 9   • Case examples. Conduct case examples to obtain more information about the previously listed topics, to learn about case example agencies’ decision-making processes relevant to BRT operations and maintenance, and to learn how case example agencies evolved their BRT services over time. • Summary report. Prepare a report that summarizes the approach to and findings of the study and identifies knowledge gaps and future research needs. Accordingly, conduct of the synthesis study included a focused literature review, a survey of transit agencies that operate BRT services and/or prioritized bus facilities, case examples of transit agencies that operate mature BRT services, and development of a synthesis report. Report Organization This synthesis report begins with a summary of the study results and this introductory chapter. Chapter 2 of the report provides background information about BRT and BRT impacts and challenges. Chapter 3 describes the methodology for and the results of the transit agency survey conducted to obtain relevant data and focus the synthesis’s case examples. The method- ology for and the results of the case examples are presented in Chapters 4 and 5, respectively. Chapter 6 summarizes the conclusions of the synthesis effort and discusses future research needs. Following a list of references and abbreviations and acronyms used in this report, appendices contain a copy of the agency survey questionnaire and a list of survey respondents.

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Bus rapid transit (BRT) and BRT light continue to interest transit agencies in the United States, and these agencies continue to struggle with many facets that go into the implementation of BRT operations, infrastructure, and services.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Synthesis 164: Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice documents the current practices and lessons learned about U.S. and Canadian transit systems that use BRT components to improve the reliability of bus service, bus travel time, operation efficiency, and customer satisfaction and to increase ridership.

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