Far East BRT hosts site visit and technical briefing programs for key demonstration projects in urban transport and urban development.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) aims to provide a subway-like level of service and speed, but using buses rather than fixed rail trains. BRT systems are especially appealing to cities which are rapidly growing, because they are more than 10 times cheaper than subway systems to build and operate, and can be built much faster. However, although BRT has been expanding worldwide, up to early 2010 Bogota's TransMilenio BRT system, which opened in 2000, was still the only 'very high capacity' BRT.
The Guangzhou BRT, which opened in February 2010 after several years of planning and design led by the Guangzhou Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute and Far East BRT's key experts at that time working for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), is the system that breaks the mold of low to medium capacity BRT that was becoming entrenched in Asia, and is the first 'metro replacement' level BRT system outside South America. The Guangzhou BRT has more than triple the peak passenger flows of any other BRT system in Asia, and also higher throughput than nearly all metro systems in China.
The Guangzhou BRT is breaking records and changing perceptions of bus-based transit. Some key points include:
- Peak passenger flows of 28,000 pphpd. This is far in excess of capacity limits formerly thought to apply to 'direct-service' BRT systems in which vehicles operate both inside and outside the BRT infrastructure, avoiding passenger transfers.
- Daily ridership of more than 800,000 passenger-trips.
- Passenger boardings of 9,000 passengers per hour (not including transfers) at the biggest morning peak and evening peak stations, a record for regular BRT stations.
- Boardings of more than 50,000 passengers per day at a single station (Gangding BRT station).
- Some of the world's longest BRT stations and the highest BRT bus volumes: 350 per hour in a single direction, or roughly 1 bus every 10 seconds in a single direction.
- The first BRT system to include bike sharing in the BRT station design. A bike sharing system that opened in June 2010 now has 5,000 bikes along the BRT corridor, at 113 bike sharing stations.
- Direct connecting tunnels between metro and BRT stations. These inter-modal connections (BRT, metro, bike sharing, bike parking, pedestrians, adjacent buildings) make the Guangzhou BRT corridor a leading example of multi-modal transport integration.
- The first BRT system in China with more than one BRT operator: three corporate groups consisting of seven different bus operating companies all operate BRT routes.
- The first BRT system in Asia to determine station size based on passenger demand, for all stations. This results in a range of station lengths from 55m to more than 250m.
Animpact analysis carried out during 2009-2015reveals a range of impressive impacts of the Guangzhou BRT:
- 30% higher bus speeds, resulting in an average time saving of 6.63 minutes per BRT trip, or 88,000 passenger-hours per day, or more than 30 million passenger-hours saved each year. This benefit will increase in future years as demand increases, compared to a baseline scenario in which buses in Guangzhou are losing around 0.5km/hr per year in speeds.
- A halving of out-of-pocket bus trip costs for passengers, from 4.9 yuan (December 2009) to 2.6 yuan (August 2010). Operational losses (revenue minus costs) per bus-km fell from 0.9 yuan (before BRT) to 0.3 yuan.
- A 15% decrease in bus waiting times along the BRT corridor, compared to a 7% increase in another (non-BRT) corridor, done as a control survey.
- In the BRT corridor, an increase in those satisfied with public transport from 29% (Dec. 2009, before the BRT) to 65% (Dec. 2010), and a decrease in those dissatisfied with public transport from 21% (Dec. 2009) to 2% (Dec. 2010).
- A large increase in civic pride, with those agreeing 'I am proud of Guangzhou' increasing amongst bus passengers in the BRT corridor from 40% (before the BRT) to 73%. Amongst car drivers the figure was unchanged, and in the control survey in a different corridor, civic pride amongst bus passengers decreased slightly over the same period.
- An increase in bus passengers agreeing that 'the environment in Zhongshan Avenue [the BRT corridor] is good', from 17% (before BRT) to 67% (after BRT). Those who disagreed fell from 52% to 9%.
- An increase in those agreeing that 'I feel safe walking along Zhongshan Avenue' from 28% before the BRT to 68% after BRT. An increase in cyclists along the BRT corridor by 50% in the highest demand locations, within the first year.
- Significantly lesser greenhouse gas and local emissions, with faster and smoother traffic, and fewer and newer buses. More than 50,000 tons of CO2 emissions were reduced in the first year of operation due to fewer bus-kilometers, faster and smoother traffic, and mode shift from cars and taxis to buses. The first BRT corridor will average 84,000 tons of CO2 emission reductions per year over the next 10 years.
The Guangzhou BRT and integrated bike sharing system won the 2011 Sustainable Transport Award in a ceremony in Washington DC on 24 January 2011. The BRT system has also been awarded city and provincial first level design prizes, and was acknowledged as a UNFCCC 'Lighthouse Award' recipient in 2013. Also in 2013 the Guangzhou BRT was the first BRT system in Asia to receive a 'Gold Standard' rating in the BRT Standard scoring system.
The Guangzhou Modern BRT and Sustainable Transport Institute, led by Far East BRT experts working for ITDP, in 2012 won an international bid by the Asian Development Bank to provide the BRT preliminary design in Yichang, the second largest city in Hubei Province after Wuhan, and the site of the Three Gorges Dam. This major project features a BRT corridor through the heart of the city, and Far East BRT's experts (working at the time for ITDP-China) prepared the preliminary corridor design, demand analysis, operations, station and road design, modal integration plan (focusing on pedestrians & bicycles), and other system features. The construction of the Yichang BRT started in February 2014. The system opened on 15 July 2015. The full phase 1 and 2 corridors run 23.9 kilometers with 37 stations connecting major urban sub-centres in the north and south of the city. A preliminary impact analysis is availablehere.