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Master of Eng.

Civil Engineering


Master of Eng. in Civil Engineering

Course REPORTS 2018-2019 (Q1)




Barcelona, January 2018

Master of Eng. in
Civil Engineering


1. INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................................3
2. HISTORY OF BRTs............................................................................................................4
3. FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF A BRT........................................................6
SYSTEMS (METRO)................................................................................................................9
5. BRT – SEPARATE BUS-WAY GUIDELINES................................................................14
6. CONCLUSION.................................................................................................................22
7. REFERENCES.................................................................................................................24

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Public transportation is a key concept which allows citizens to move and access essential goods
and services in the cities of today. For many citizens of developing cities, public transport is the
only practical means to access employment, education or many public services. Unfortunately,
the current state of public transport services in developing cities often does little to serve the
actual mobility needs of the population. Bus services are too often unreliable and inconvenient.

In response, local authorities and some transport planners have sometimes implemented
extremely costly mass transit alternatives like subways or other rail-based modes. However, as
the cost of rail infrastructure is very high, cities only implement such systems in a very limited
number of corridors. Therefore, the result can be a network that does not really meet the
transportation needs of the citizens.

Nevertheless, there is an alternative that can offer a good public transit service and doesn’t have
huge cost. BRT systems (Bus Rapid Transit) can provide high-quality service at a fraction of the
cost of other modes. A BRT usually costs 4 to 20 times less than a Light Rail Train or a tramway
and 10 to 100 times less than a metro system. Nowadays, the BRT concept is becoming more and
more used by cities looking for cost-effective transit solutions.

BRT systems have proved to have a good cost/benefit ratio and are useful when cities need to
quickly develop a public transportation system in order to complete a network and offer a high
quality and a fast system. Even though the BRT concept is in its early years of its
implementation, they have the potential to revolutionize urban transport.

The BRT is a high performance bus based public transport system that offers a fast and
comfortable urban mobility. This system typically includes roadways dedicated to buses, which
have priority at intersections where buses interact with other traffic. In addition to dedicated
lanes, typically aligned to the center of the road, this system also offers off-board fare collection.

All of this allows avoiding the causes of delay that usually slow regular bus services, for instance
being stuck in traffic and queuing to pay on board. Therefore, it can be said that it is designed to
improve capacity, velocity and reliability relative to a conventional bus system.

These systems of mass transit are centered in the customer needs for speed, comfort,
convenience and safety, rather than around a specific technology. This is why Bus Rapid Transit
gathers some of the best practice features and characteristics from other mass transit modes.

The name BRT started to be used in Europe and North America. Despite this, the same system is
being used in other countries around the world with different names like, for example: high-
capacity bus systems, high-quality bus systems, metrobus, surface subway, express bus systems
and bus-way systems.

Finally, some of the most important objectives of the BRT concept, among others, are the

● Foster a “system” approach, not commonly implemented with a bus-based service.

● Respond to the need of revaluation of bus network image. Even though projects have
various configurations, the more frequent practice is to create structural bus lines, as they
usually are the ones to offer a higher capacity.
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● Provide a methodological tool for the decision-makers and all the involved partners.
● Enable the organizing transport authorities to establish a long term policy for the urban
planning studies.

In the following rapport, the concept of BRT will be presented. First of all, its beginnings and
history will be seen, as well as its current features and characteristics. Afterwards, this system
will be compared with rail based systems in terms of capacity and costs. Then, some design
parameters for BRT systems will be introduced. Finally, the conclusion will consist in a review
of all the points presented before, as well as a recapitulation of BRT’s pros and cons.


BRTs were born from different efforts to improve the transit system for the customers. The first
ideas of BRT appeared in the 1960s in the United States and consisted in high occupancy and bus
exclusive lanes. In 1963, for instance, New York introduced express buses using contra flow bus
lanes in the city area.

However, some years before, in 1937, Chicago planed 3 inner city rail lines to be converted into
express bus corridors. Other BRT plans were also developed in many other cities in the United
States (Washington DC, St. Louis and Milwaukee).

Nevertheless, the first BRT system in the world was the construction of a 7.5 kilometre dedicated
bus lane in Lima in 1972 and the OC Transpo system in Ottawa in 1973. The latter consisted in
the implementation of dedicated bus lanes through the city center, with plat-formed stops.

Transitway System Design. Mickey G Ottawa, 2012.

In 1974, the first modern BRT system in the world (surface subway) was implemented. It was
built in Curitiba, Brazil, and its name was the “Rede Integrada de Transporte”. At first, Curitiba
wanted to build a rail-based metro system, but due to the lack of funding, they had to search for a
more creative and cheaper solution.

Thus, the city started developing bus corridors through major arterial streets that had the city
center as the ending point. Population experienced a rapid growth and some years after its
implementation, in 1980, the system added a feeder bus network as well as inter-zone
connections. In 1992, they implemented off-board fare collection, enclosed stations, and
platform boarding.
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Nowadays, Curitiba’s BRT system has 5 radial corridors with bi-articulated buses that can
transport 270 passengers, 57 km of exclusive bus lanes and 340 km of feeder buses. It all started
because the lack of resources to develop a rail based transit system pushed Curitiba’s mayor and
his team to design a lowcost yet high quality alternative using the advantages of bus technology.
Today, the organization and design features of this BRT system have converted it in a world

Despite Curitiba’s case success, the implementation of BRTs in other cities was pretty slow. In
the 1970s, some cities in America copied the BRT system but they were less sophisticated that
the Curitiba one. However, it was not until the late 1990s that this transportation system became
more widely known. During these years, cities like Bogota, Los Angeles and Quito became
interested in launching a BRT system.

However, Bogota’s BRT, called “TransMilenio” was the one that transformed this transportation
system perception around the world. The success of BRT as a transportation system in
Colombia’s capital city (a very dense city with 7 million inhabitants) proved that BRTs were
capable of offering a high capacity performance transportation system for megacities.

After this, a great number of BRT systems started to be constructed all over the world. For
instance, in 1998, the United States, after visiting Curitiba, decided that such system could be
replicable in the United States, as high automobile usage made it difficult to justify costly rail
based transportation systems but BRTs had good qualities. Hence, nowadays some high quality
bus systems are already in place in Chicago, Honolulu, Seattle, Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami,
Philadelphia and Pittsburg.

Other developed countries like Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Germany or the United
Kingdom also see the potential for BRT as a high-quality but low-cost mass transit option. The
best examples of BRT systems in developed cities are:

● Brisbane (Australia)
● Ottawa (Canada)
● Rouen (France)

As it has been said, nowadays, a lot of cities all over the world have implemented or are planning
to implement transportation systems that have some of the qualities of BRT (for instance
exclusive bus lanes). However, the list of cities with a full BRT system is the following (in

● Bogota (Colombia): 58 kilometers

● Curitiba (Brazil): 57 kilometers
● Goiania (Brazil): 13 kilometers
● Quito (Ecuador): 26 kilometers

In this case, a “full” BRT system is assumed to have the following features:

● Exclusive bus lanes used on trunk-line corridors.

● Pre-board fare collection and verification
● Entry to the system is restricted to some operators under a reformed business and
administrative structure.

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● Clean vehicle technology

● Fare free integration between feeder services and trunk-line services.

Finally, it should be mentioned that even though BRTs can be considered as a transit priority
because of its social, economic and environmental benefits, they also have some barriers that
prevent a wider development.

Perhaps the most important one is the political will, as it can be sometimes difficult for public
bodies to commit to a new transportation system while some lobby groups from rail and
automobile interests make for a powerful argument against it. Other barriers to BRT
implementation may be: existing operators, institutional biases, lack of information, institutional
capacity, technical capacity, financing capacity and geographical or physical limitations.


A BRT system has five essential features that define it. These are the attributes that make it a
more convenient mode of transportation for passengers due to a reduction in travel time and the
increment of reliability.

● Dedicated lanes

Bus-only lanes allow buses to travel at a higher velocity and prevent them from being
delayed due to general traffic congestion. This helps reduce the travel time between two
points for passengers. BRTs can also travel through elevated lanes or through transit
malls (streets in the city center along which vehicle traffic is prohibited or very restricted
and only pedestrian, bicycles and public transportation vehicles are allowed).

● Bus-way alignment

Bus-exclusive corridors are usually located in the center of the roadway to keep buses
away from busy curb-side, where other cars and vehicles are parking, waiting or turning.
This is a way of avoiding interferences with other transportation modes even more.

Dedicated bus lanes and alignment in Guangzhou’s BRT (China)
● Off-board fare collection

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Fare payment in BRT systems is located at the station instead of on board the vehicle.
This way, the delay originated by passengers queuing to pay on board is eliminated.

On-station payment in Toronto’s BRT (Canada)

● Platform-level boarding

For an optimal BRT service, bus stations should be at level with the bus, in order to have
easy boarding with minimal delay. Moreover, this way, buses would be fully accessible
also for people with reduced mobility.

When buses are high-floored, it becomes complex to have stops outside dedicated high-
level platforms. In the same way, if platforms constructed along the way are high-leveled,
conventional buses will not be able to stop there. In addition, the risky gap between bus
and platform will appear. On the other hand, if buses used are low-floor buses, they will
be able to allow boarding at existing low-platforms stops used by conventional buses too.

In the city of Cali (Colombia), they implanted in 2009 a new BRT system that used dual
buses. They had doors on both sides and those on the left side of the bus were located at
the height of high-level platforms, while those on the right were located at curb height.
This way, buses could use the main BRT line (dedicated lane) and its high-level platforms
on the center of the street.

However, once the buses leave this dedicated lane and use other normal lanes shared with
other automobiles in the city, they can still load and unload passengers on sidewalks
through the right side doors. In 20014, Bogota’s BRT (Transmilenio) also used this
system, with buses that can use main line stations and also regular sidewalk stations.

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Transmilenio bus with high-level doors

● Intersection treatments

In addition to signal priority measures for buses, the most important measure for moving
BRT’s buses through intersections consists on forbidding turns across the bus lane for the
rest of the traffic vehicles. Those turns would cause important delays to the BRT.

Buses should have priority in intersections in order to reduce delays and improve their
operational speed. Such priority can be given to buses by extending the green phase for
their lane or reducing the red phase of traffic lights in the required direction compared to
the normal sequence.

In addition to these, there are other features that define and identify a BRT system in order to
differentiate it from other conventional bus lines. Below are some characteristics of a BRT line
from one origin to one destination that have to be taken into account when designing a new

a) Scope of a BRT

i) Hourly capacity: a structuring line in Europe can move around 2500 or 3000
passengers per hour and per direction at peak hour. In Ottawa, however, the BRT
some lines transport 9000 or 10000 passengers per hour and direction. There,
vehicles have less capacity but frequency is higher.

ii) Spatial coverage: this corresponds to the proportion of urbanized area served by
the BRT and gives an idea of the level of service.

iii) Demographic coverage: this represents the proportion of population served by the
transportation network.

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b) Service provided to passengers

i) Regularity and punctuality of the service: this is a key issue for BRT systems and
the one that allows a reliable level of service and travel time regardless of the
traffic conditions.

ii) Frequency: frequency has an important impact in waiting time and thus in the
total travel time, especially when a transfer is involved. Usually, if frequency is
under 5 or 8 minutes, it’s considered high.

iii) Amplitude of service: the working hours of the bus service is a fundamental
characteristic of a BRT system and it depends on the city’s size and the existing
public transport network.

iv) Travel time: door-to-door travel time is the variable that will make the passengers
choose this system or not. Travel time and its reliability even in peak hours is

v) Communication of services related to the trip: the BRT system should integrate
information about the service and about other services, such as localization and
indications to get to some important places as well as information about the city.

c) Intermodality

i) Connections between different modes of transport: a BRT is a structuring public

transport in the city. That’s why it should be well integrated with other feeder
transportation systems.
1) Transfer points
2) Park&Rides



As it has been shown before, the BRT is a system of buses with a great variety of exclusive
pathways (of 1 and/or 2 lanes per sense) and services (it can be a regular service or an express
one). Having the opportunity of circulating in a segregated way allows the bus to reach a greater
capacity of passengers when being compared with the traditional urban bus service (circulating
on the same lanes than the private and freight road transport).

On the other hand, the Metro system (also known as Underground) is the backbone of the main
systems of transportation in the most important cities around the world. Metro allows to have a
big capacity, a high velocity service in urban areas which are densely populated. It circulates
over steel rails in segregated ways. The electricity needed for moving the train is given by a third
rail or by a catenary.

● Comparative: Vehicle properties

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BRT Trains composed by 3 to 10 cars with
the following properties:
200 people/car.

CAPACITY 150 people The capacity of the whole train it

depends on the number of cars used
(from 600 to 2000 people).
LENGTH 18 meters

● Comparative: System capacity

In the following Figure, a comparative in terms of transportation capacity (passengers hour/day)

and distance between stations is shown for different transportation systems: metro, light rail (tren
ligero in Spanish), the commuter train (Tren de cercanías) and bus.

Comparative (in terms of transportation capacity) between metro, light rail, commuter train and
bus (BRT systems are included in this last category)

It can be seen that the Bus system is the one with a lower distance between stations but also the
one with a lower transportation system. On the other hand, the metro has an average distance
between stations but it has the greater transportation capacity.

● Comparative: Roadspace

An analogy of the results seen on the previous Figure can be done by comparing a metro car in
terms of capacity with buses or private cars, in order to see it in terms of use of roadspace. The
results are pretty surprising:

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Comparative between private vehicles, buses and metro for moving 210 passengers

For having a operation of the BRT system in good conditions, 4 lanes and an additional space for
stations is required, using (in average) 19 meters of road space. A BRT system works with less
lanes, but its capacity is significantly reduced.

A meter overground requires at maximum 4 meters of space in the central area for the collocation
of pillars, while the Metro system is underground, so it does not require road space.

For a BRT working at full capacity it requires 2 lanes per sense, which allows the overtaking
between buses, giving place to:
- Regular services: They stop in all the stations.
- Express services: They only stop in the stations with a bigger demand.

Despite of the overuse of the road space in a BRT system, its capacity is the 50% of the one of
the Metro (considering a saturated operation of a BRT, 8-10 pax/m2).

● Comparative: Operativity and service

- Vehicles and passengers on stops

BRT vehicles have a lower capacity (150 passengers) when compared with Metro vehicles
(1000-2000 passengers), as it has been seen before. For this reason, queues on BRT stations are
formed when buses stop on the stations. This fact is a pretty disadvantage for the BRT systems,
but pretty unavoidable since is not possible to compete with the capacity of the Metro system
(vehicles can be bigger since they are subterranean. These queues can be also formed by
passengers who are waiting for getting on the bus.

- Punctuality

The formation of the queues explained above causes an increment of time of the buses on the
stops, due to the waiting time for alighting and getting of the bus of a huge quantity of people or
due to the manouvering time of more than a bus in the segregated space.

The regularity of the BRT service is, then, variable, since on the Metro is constant.

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- Comfort

For achieving its maximum capacity, BRT vehicles operate with 8 (up to 10) passengers per
square meter, reducing in this way the confort and the quality of the service. However, as
explained before, there is no way of having vehicles as big as the ones used in the Metro system.

● Comparative: Energy efficiency

The contact area between rail wheel and lane is much minor than the bus wheel-road. Moreover,
friction present between rail wheels and steel lanes is minor to the one existing between bus
wheels and road. Using a rail system:

- Reduces to one-tenth the effort needed for carrying the same load.
- Saves more than a 30% of energy in contrast to road systems.

The use of the catenary renders the Metro the most efficient (in terms of energy) transportation

● Comparative: Pollution

As it has been seen on the previous paragraph, the fact of having less friction means having a
more efficient transportation system. Moreover, the energetic efficiency can be expressed also in
terms of reduction of the pollution.
However, buses on a BRT, fuelled with Natural Gas, generate less emissions than conventional
buses, but they are still polluting the environment. On the other hand, the Metro uses electric
energy, which does not generate any emissions.

Pollution emissions for private vehicles, buses and metro (0%)

● Comparative: Accidents

The BRT system, since it is a segregated corridor but on the ground level and having
intersections, generates more traffic accidents than the Metro system (but much less than a
conventional bus system), that has a corridor totally independent of the rest of vehicles present
on the roads.

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● Comparative: Costs

- Initial costs

On the following figure it can be seen how the BRT has the lowest investment cost, while metro
transportation systems have the highest.

Investment costs for different transportation systems: BRT, light rail, suburban rails, elevated and
subterranean metro

- Maintenance costs

Contrary to what seen on the previous figure, focusing on maintenance costs, the highest ones
are the relatives to the articulated bus (as BRT systems), most specially in terms of operability.

Comparative of lifetime costs between Metro, Tram and Articulated Bus

● Comparative: Lifetime

- Of the vehicle:

BRT vehicles are articulated buses, with the following features:

- Fuelled: by gas or diesel
- Lifetime: 5-7 years

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On the other hand, Metro vehicles:

- Fed by electricity (flexible and/or rigid catenary, third rail).
- Lifetime: 50 years.

However, as it has been shown above, the costs of a Metro vehicle (in terms of initial cost) are
much higher, so it can be not affordable for cities with not so many resources.

- Of the tracks:
The BRT track is formed by Flexible Pavement (asphalt) or Rigid Pavement (concrete).
- Lifetime of a BRT track: 7-10 years.

Metro track is a rail track, formed by: ballast, railway ties and rail systems.
- Lifetime of a metro track: 50 years.

Also in this case, the infrastructure investment costs are much higher for the Metro system. The
city interested in implementing one option or the other one has to make a trade-off between costs
and benefits (for example, using methods seen on the subject of Transportation Planning and
Management On the Territory like the CBA or the MCrit Analysis) for choosing.


Separated bus-ways represent the highest order of running way for a BRT system. Dedicated
lanes allow buses to travel freely and without obstruction (save for other buses), which provides
a clear time advantage relative to mixed-flow running ways. Separate bus-ways also represent a
significant advantage for use by emergency vehicle traffic to and from travel areas that might
otherwise be congested or difficult to access during peak travel times.

Where possible, the best balance of the most direct route and the smallest number of grade-
separated crossings and other costly project elements should be chosen. While this may seem
obvious from the outset, cost considerations tend to take precedence over rider
convenience/attraction, which more often than not tends to be the amount of travel time. Striking
the right balance between overall cost and rider convenience is one of the most challenging yet
most important aspect of the planning process for a separate bus-way facility.

Because bus services are flexible and may be modified over time to reflect changing passenger
and development growth patterns, where possible, connections between a dedicated bus roadway
and the street system should be designed from the outset to accommodate turns in all directions.

 Geometry

The geometry of a separate bus-way facility can be considered for two types of corridors:
“greenfield bus-ways,” which are bus-ways constructed in areas that offer few limitations in
terms of space, direct routes to the desired destinations, and require few if any expropriations, as
they are on mostly undeveloped lands.

The second type of corridor, a “constrained corridor,” uses routes that are limited in width,
located along routes that are not entirely direct and/or are constructed adjacent to or within

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developed areas. These factors will have a significant influence on the construction cost,
convenience and travel time associated with the bus-way(s).

Assuming that sufficient land space has been acquired, separate bus-ways should be constructed
with passenger comfort in mind. Similar to any other bus-way lane(s), geometry will influence
the comfort and ultimately the attraction of transit users, particularly patrons who are standing.
Therefore, abrupt changes in horizontal alignment should be avoided as much as possible.

The design speed of the bus-way should be selected with the notion that as a restricted access
road with few obstructions, design speeds should match those of major comparable
thoroughfares, while recognizing that constraints or local policy may limit the maximum design
speed to some degree or in some areas. In general, the geometry of the bus-way should meet
current AASHTO or TAC geometric design guidelines for the desired design speed.

cal bus-way geometric criteria and Recommended Desirable values

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 Cross-section

Desirable cross-sections are based on those for public roadways with the same design speed.
Minimum cross-section widths are constrained by the physical width of the bus. Typically, the
bus width constraint occurs at the mirror level, where bus mirror to mirror widths can be on the
order of 3.35 meters.

The variability of separate bus-way cross-section elements and dimensions under both ideal and
constrained conditions is illustrated in the following figure, for a completely separated bus-way
facility and where the bus-way is developed alongside one side of a roadway corridor.

Separate Busway Typical section

Ideally, lane widths should be 3.65 meters, with shoulder widths outside station areas of a
minimum of 1.2 meters. Minimum recommended lane widths are 3.35 meters with a minimum
shoulder width outside station areas of 0.6 meters. Cross-section widths should be maintained
across structures, although for long structures (more than 60 meters in length), cost constraints
may warrant some reduction in the shoulder width.

At stations, the width of a bus bay or parking area at a station platform may be reduced to 3.0
meters, assuming a separate bus passing lane is provided. Added width should be provided where
needed to allow parking for maintenance vehicles or storing disabled buses.
In the case of a guided bus-way, the width of each bus lane can be reduced to as narrow as 2.8
meters, with curbing provided on one or both sides of the bus-way. Curbing can also be provided
on the outside of the bus-way cross-section outside station areas where there is limited lateral
clearance, assuming bus operating speed is reduced.

The unobstructed vertical clearance over the bus-way should desirably be a minimum of 16.5
feet (5.0 meters). The minimum recommended clearance is 4.7 meters. This will allow other
vehicles, such as maintenance and emergency vehicles, to utilize the bus-way as well as allow
possible future conversion to light rail transit. The following figure shows the clearance box for a
typical light rail vehicle.

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Clearance box for a typical light rail vehicle

 Access

There may be some situations where it is desirable to link the bus-way with a crossing or
adjacent high-standard roadway or controlled access highway. Conventional one-way or two-
way ramps are used.

Single-lane ramps should have a minimum width of 4.2 meters with 1.2 m shoulders to allow for
passing of disabled buses or maintenance vehicles. For radii of 120 meters or less, off-tracking of
a bus becomes significant and should be determined to verify the minimum width needed for
passing. Multiple lane ramps should have lane widths consistent with the adjacent sections of the
bus-way. In the case of an urban section ramp, the width of the curb and gutter is in addition to
the width of the ramp lanes.

 Other design considerations: Pavement structure

Guidelines for the design of bus-way pavements stem from direct experience with the design of
flexible and rigid roadway pavement systems. These guidelines are proposed for use in the
planning stage only and do not preclude the need for detailed pavement structure design.

Subsequent detailed investigation, necessary before final design, will almost certainly indicate
the need for modifications to the typical pavement thickness given in this document. Factors
such as design traffic, subgrade conditions, environmental effects, availability of acceptable
construction materials, construction traffic, performance of similarly loaded pavements in the
area and economics all need to considered in order as part of detailed design to arrive at an
optimum pavement structure.

The following table identifies some typical bus and gross vehicle weights for different potential
BRT vehicle types.

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Typical bus and gross vehicle weights for different BRT vehicle types

Pavement design is directly influenced by the expected number of heavy axle loadings, as
opposed to the gross vehicle weight, as multiple axles help spread the load on the pavement and
reduce the impact. However, loading is not even across axles, and typically the rear axle on a
two-axle vehicle will carry 70 to 75 percent of the gross vehicle weight. Note that even small
increases in weight on an axle can cause disproportionately large amounts of damage to the
pavement structure.

For the purposes of design, the traffic volume is represented by the number of equivalent
standard axles (ESAs) typically using a design period of 20 years for flexible pavements and 40
years for concrete pavements. When comparing different pavement structures, a whole-life
analysis of the alternatives is required to produce an equitable comparison.

Typical pavement section depths for a rigid pavement are in the range of 175 to 250 millimeters
of Portland cement concrete on a 150 millimeter deep crushed granular base course. For a
flexible pavement, the typical depths are 125 to 175 millimeters of asphaltic concrete pavement
over 300 to 375 millimeters of crushed granular base course. The life cycle of asphalt would
include an overlay of 5 centimeters at approximately 12 to 15 years.

Additional consideration should be given to pavement design in BRT systems with lane guidance
systems, as these systems tend to maintain a single wheel line loading that may promote faster

Experience has shown that rigid pavements perform better at bus stops and intersections, and
their use is recommended in these cases.

 Restriction of non-bus traffic

o Pedestrian restrictions

Separate bus-ways, while posing advantages due to restricted access and ability to travel at
higher speeds, have the added responsibility of limiting access to pedestrians as well as vehicular

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Where the bus-way is located in its own right-of-way, a fence or other barrier should be provided
throughout the length of the bus-way for safety, for pedestrian control and to prevent trash
dumping. Engineering judgment may dictate exceptions in areas of precipitous slopes or other
natural barriers to access or in park-like areas. “No Trespassing” signs should be mounted on the
fence or barrier at appropriate intervals.

Where retaining walls, abutments, buildings, etc. form a portion of the right-of-way to be
protected, and are suitable for top-mounted fencing, the height of the wall may be considered as
part of the fence height.

Where pedestrian crossings are required, it is recommended that they be at signalized crossing
locations to avoid conflicts with buses. These could be equipped with transit signal priority

o Vehicular traffic restrictions

Provision should be made in the design of all bus-way entry and exit points for the future
installation, if necessary, of boom gates or other positive traffic control devices to permit the
closure of the bus-way during off hours to prevent its unauthorized use.
Provision should be made for emergency vehicle access to bus-way right of way (e.g., through
special access points). In the case of unguided bus-ways, where the access point is gated, the gate
should be a “crash gate” capable of entry by a fire truck. Where required for operations and
maintenance purposes, access may be provided, with gates with suitable locking devices, to
prevent unauthorized use. For ease of use, locking devices should be standard throughout the

o Drainage

Provision of adequate drainage is important in providing a safe driving surface during storm
events and preserving the pavement structure. New or upgraded drainage systems, especially in
urban areas, can have a significant cost depending on the storm frequency design event (1 in 5
years, 1 in 10 year, etc.) to be accommodated.

Careful consideration to the cost and operational impacts is recommended. Placement of catch
basins at station areas should be located upstream of the platform to intercept as much as storm
water as practical to avoid splashing patrons waiting to board.

Accommodation of further snow storage requirements where conditions warrant.

o Landscaping

Landscaping requirements will vary depending on available right-of-way, agency policy,

community desires and funding constraints.

o Lighting

Street lighting is generally not warranted along separate bus-ways. At stations, appropriate
lighting levels are recommended for passenger comfort, safety and security.

o Communication ducts
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Consideration should be given to communication ducting requirements or opportunities

associated with crossing or adjacent road or rail corridors. Where the bus-way is to be covered
by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, the duct location should reflect the likelihood that
such cameras will be placed to minimize interference by bright sunlight.

However, in general, communication ducts should be placed adjacent to an urban cross-section

bus-way, in all structures, and under all platforms and paved surfaces to avoid future disruptions.

o Signage, pavement markings and traffic control

Bus-way signage and traffic control should comply with Manual of Uniform Traffic Control
Devices (MUTCD) guidelines and local practices:

At bus-way entry points and at stations, special bus-way signage should be installed to indicate
the following:

For bus-way users / operators:

 Maximum operating speeds
 Cautionary operating speeds
 Upcoming intersections
 Changes in roadway geometry
 Upcoming merges
 Stop and yield conditions

For passengers and other users:

 Pedestrian prohibitions and at-grade crossings
 Bus-way entry prohibitions
 Bicycle and private vehicle prohibitions

At all bus-way ramps and entry points, signage should indicate that entry onto the bus-way is
restricted to authorized vehicles only. At the same location advisory signage should show bus-
way operating speeds and the general prohibition on passing except where the bus-way is
specifically widened for this purpose. In locations, where hazards may delay BRT vehicles, signs
should be placed upstream of the potential hazard at locations that permit BRT vehicles to detour
onto the local street system and avoid the hazard.

Signalized traffic control should be used at all intersections with other streets and where
necessary at intersections with restricted sight distance (i.e., where walled). Otherwise, traffic
signals should be used only to alert bus-way vehicle drivers in sections of the bus-way that are
determined to require signals for safety considerations. Examples would include tunnels, bridges
and contraflow lane sections.

All traffic control signals at BRT intersections (including on-street operation) should have in-
pavement detector loops or other bus detection devices installed on board the BRT vehicles tied
to the priority treatment at the traffic signal controller. Signal timing and phasing should be
designed to minimize any disruption to the smooth flow of buses in the BRT corridor.

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Provision should also be made for automated advisory signage visible to the public (triggered by
approaching buses), including accommodation for people with vision impairment, at any at-
grade crossings of the bus-way.

Bus-way pavement markings should consist of a single, solid, yellow line on the centerline
throughout and solid, white edge pavement lines at stations and channelization.

Based on local station features, suitable directional and information trail-blazer signage should
be considered to direct potential bus-way patrons from controlled-access highways, arterial roads
and suburban streets to bus-way parking areas and drop-off zones.

o Rail corridor interface

Where a separate bus-way alignment is adjacent to active railway tracks, the bus-way should be
designed to meet the specific railway design criteria and standards, in particular addressing the
following design elements:

 Design speed
 Maximum horizontal and vertical geometry
 Horizontal and vertical clearances
 Superelevation criteria
 Storm frequency for drainage design/minimum pipe size and pipe material
 Minimum depth for ballast and sub-ballast
 Live/impact loads for structural design
 Minimum widths of bridges

While rail authority criteria will govern, the following criteria are provided as generally
applicable guidelines:

Minimum offset from the centerline of the railway tracks to the edge of the bus-way right-of-way
should be 5.5 meters.

A concrete barrier or a crash wall, if required, should separate the two facilities if the distance
between the center line of the railway tracks and the edge of pavement of the bus-way is less
than 6.1 meters on tangent or 6.4 meters on curve.

For over-rail bridges, the minimum horizontal clearance measured from the center line of track
to the near face of the obstruction is 6.1 meters for tangent track and 6.4 meters for curves. The
minimum vertical clearance is 6.7 meters.

Master of Eng. in
Civil Engineering


It is well known that an effective public transport system determines a city’s progress towards
social equality, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. As it has been seen, Bus
Rapid Transit systems are a useful tool for avoiding car-dependence and organizing public
transportation in the city through some high capacity lines.

This system is especially attractive in developing cities thanks to its multiple benefits. In the first
place, BRTs are cheaper to implement than a metro system and can attain a very similar level of
performance. In many of these cities, current public transportation networks are not well
designed for its users.

The state of public transit implies discomfort, long waits, risk to personal safety and restrictions
on movement. In these conditions, the number of private vehicle continues to increase (either in
the form of a motorcycle or automobile) as income rise. This is why changes in the public transit
network have to be done in these cities, and BRTs are a good alternative.

BRTs can lead to reduced public costs associated with vehicle emissions and accidents. In
addition, they will reduce travel times in comparison with other transportation systems and are
more reliable, which can ultimately result in an increase in economic productivity.

Moreover, a BRT system provides a more equitable access throughout the city and reduces
accidents. Concerning the environmental impact, these systems reduce noise levels and
emissions of pollutants (compared to a conventional bus network). In addition, the shape of BRT
lines contributes to the creation of a more sustainable urban for because of the densification of
major corridors.

Although BRTs have been widely promoted due to its advantages, they have had some criticism
too. One of the issues is the environmental impact because, even though BRT systems are pollute
less per passengers than what a conventional bus network or private cars would, they often use
diesel or gasoline fueled engines, unlike trains, that are electric powered.

However, they can also reduce direct emissions using alternative forms of traction such as hybrid
or electric engines. In addition, trolleybuses can be used to reduce air pollution and noise, and its
electrical systems can be later on reused for future light rail conversion.

Besides that, another disadvantage of this system is that many BRT suffer from overcrowding in
buses and stations because even though it’s a high capacity system, its capacity is still lower than
the metro’s. Consequently, this lowers passenger’s satisfaction.

Another principal criticism of BRT systems is that they can sometimes not accomplish their goal
of an efficient, rapid flow along dedicated bus lanes because of traffic jams induced by dedicated
lanes and overcrowded stations. In addition, some experts also attribute the failure of BRT
systems to land use structure, meaning that if a city has a sprawled shape and no mixed use,
BRTs will probably not be economically viable.

In conclusion, BRTs are a good choice for municipalities that have the need to offer a high
capacity public transit, especially if origins and destinations are concentrated in a line, which
usually is the case of important streets in a city. Although it may be less comfortable and more
Master of Eng. in
Civil Engineering

polluting than a rail system like a metro, its cost savings make it an optimal solution for cities
who cannot make a big investment but need to solve traffic problems and make the city more
accessible and more sustainable.

Master of Eng. in
Civil Engineering


Apta Standards Development Program. Designing Bus Rapid Transit Running Ways. 2010.

CERTU. Bus à Haut Niveau de Service. 2005.

Cities Support Programme. Towards sustainable city transport systems: BRT and City Bus
Systems: Planning, Design and Operational Review Toolkit. 2017.

Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. Guía de planificación de sistemas BRT. 2010. (Visited
December 2018)

Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. What is a BRT?
(Visited December 2018)

Wikipedia. Bus Rapid Transit. (Visited

December 2018)

WRIGHT, Lloyd. Bus Rapid Transit. A sourcebook for Policy-makers in Developing Cities.