Quality Bus Corridor (QBC) or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Type:
Non-Technical Option | Generic Example
Theme:
Climate & Air | Transport

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Summary

In many urban areas, political and infrastructural restrictions have limited the feasibility of road pricing as a response to urban congestion. As a result the allocation of dedicated road space to bus transportation has emerged in a number of areas as something of a second-best option. Such initiatives are generally referred to as quality bus corridors (QBC) or bus rapid transit systems (BRT). QBCs can be implemented as a policy measures in many urban centres provided there is an operational bus network and availability of space for a second lane. A major aim of a QBC is often cited as a move to encourage modal shift amongst commuters from private cars to public buses with the ultimate goal of reducing urban traffic congestion. If QBCs are successful in facilitating modal shift away from private car use then some private car transport activity is reduced. 

Implementation

A QBC is a dedicated bus lane which aims to offer an uncongested travel route for buses. The QBC thereby gives priority to buses and offers reduced passenger journey times and improved reliability. Reduced journey times and reliability are important features of individual travel decisions, on which public transport can compete with private transport. The introduction of a QBC will improve the reliability and speed of public transport, whilst often simultaneously reducing the quality of service (in terms of available road space) for private car users. Beyond journey times and reliability, additional factors which will influence the success of a QBC network include increased service frequency, comfort, safety and value for money.

QBCs are normally developed along major route into and out of large urban centres. Development along such routes is prioritised over minor routes due to the proximity of large population and commuter catchment areas. If QBCs are to be successful and achieve significant modal shift, then it is critical that private car users are able to access the bus network with relative inconvenience.

In some instances QBCs will be fully integrated with the road traffic signalling network such that buses receive preferential signalling treatment at road junctions. Junction priority will further aid the flow frequency of buses over private cars.

Exemptions are often provided in QBCs for taxis, motorbikes and in some cases for High occupancy vehicles (e.g. passenger cars with 3 or more passengers).

For a QBC to be successful it is essential that the priority lane is appropriately policed.  

Impact

There are a number of perceived impacts from QBCs. 

  • Improved mobility and reduced congestion

Generally QBCs are introduced to support the efficient movement of people around an area. This often equates to encouraging people from single occupancy private vehicles to mass transit modes, thus freeing up road space and reducing congestion.

  • Reduced emissions

 There are many externalities associated with road transport. Whilst public transport also contributes to these, mass transit is a more efficient and lower emitting option for moving people around a city.  

  • Induced traffic

It is possible with a successful QBC programme that the associated modal shift encourages others onto the remaining roadspace. However, given that the specification of a lane for a QBC reduces available road space for all private car users

Costs & Benefits

 The principal direct cost associated with a QBC relates to maintenance of the road space and markings, and most importantly, adequate enforcement of the space as a QBC.

The benefits can include reduced emissions and associated impacts, as well as Improved travel times and quality of service for commuters.

Evidence & Reference

Other selected sources of information relating to QBC/BRT include:

National BRT Insitute : http://www.nbrti.org/

TRB BRT case studies : http://www.trb.org/Main/Public/Blurbs/152921.aspx

 

 Below is a promotional video offering examples of successful BRT programmes around the world.

Modelling this Measure

Modelling the impact of a QBC for national scale integrated assessment modelling is somewhat challenging. The basic objectives would be to estimate the following:

  • The reduction in private car use and associated activity over time
  • The increase in public transport use. A challenge here is to estimate where additional capacity is required for public transport, as this would entail an increase in public transport activity also.
  • Costs and benefits (as outlined above) associated with the QBC

Site Entry Created by Policy Measures Admin on May 09, 2010
Edited by J A Kelly

Reference This Source

Policymeasures.com (2017). Quality Bus Corridor (QBC) or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Available:
www.policymeasures.com/measures/detail/quality-bus-corridor-qbc Last accessed: 12th December 2017

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