The Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion yesterday on the prospect of bus rapid transit (BRT) in the United States and what lessons can be learned from BRT systems currently in place in Latin America.
Unlike a typical bus route, BRT systems generally have exclusive lanes for buses, make limited stops and sell tickets at kiosks rather than on the bus. These strategies keep BRT buses efficient and fast, even in congested traffic. BRT systems provide travelers with the choice of a lower cost, reliable and fast bus service as an alternate to driving by car.
Darío Hidalgo, Director of Research and Practice at EMBARQ, spoke about the organization’s new report on BRT systems in Latin America and Asia. He highlighted the many benefits of BRT, noting that the systems are cost-effective, fast and efficient, move people quickly and more safely and can also alleviate traffic congestion. The concept is also well-suited for big cities and smaller towns alike. In Colombia, capital city Bogotá has an extensive BRT system called the TransMilenio, but the smaller city Pereira, with a population of about 700,000, also makes use of the concept. BRT’s success is so widespread that many cities in Latin America either have BRT systems already or are planning them in the near future.