Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The economics of BRT and LRT

The graph pictured above? Originally from a City of Hamilton briefing report, but recently cited in a column by David Reevely on how effective light-rail transit can be, when compared to bus rapid transit. The conclusion? When done well, LRT is almost always more efficient that BRT.

But that's the caveat: When done well. Is Ottawa's LRT plan set up to maximize the efficiencies that LRT can provide, as the systems above--notably San Diego and Houston--seem to be? I've never ridden any of those systems so it's difficult to speak from personal experience, but there does seem to be similarities. Houston has 12.1 km of light-rail, which includes a line through downtown and extending south--compare with Ottawa's proposed system: 12.5 km of light-rail, including a line through downtown and moving east and west of there.

But they aren't the same systems, and Houston can't be seen as an exact model for Ottawa. Better is to look through all the systems above, see what has been done right and what has been done wrong, and take the lessons learned to set Ottawa's system up with the best chance to succeed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The following report from the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) to Congress on Mass Transit is informative. Note Figures 6 thru 9. The link is: