There’s always been a bit of a stigma associated with bus travel. Some of it smacks of classism and the view of buses being dirty, sub-par, and for the poor. Debates rage over the efficacy of train/light rail travel vs. buses. Buses need much less infrastructure to support their routes but, because they must contend with traffic-choked surface streets, they’re less speedy point-to-point.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), dubbed the “surface subway,” may just be the perfect medium. Designed properly, BRT features separated, exclusive lanes with little to no stopping for intersections.
Bogotá, Colombia boasts what StreetFilms describes as the most advanced BRT system in the world. Former mayor Enrique Peñalosa came into office just as the city planned to construct an elaborate, very expensive elevated highway system. Penalosa nixed that shortsighted plan and instead took a portion of that budget and constructed the city’s BRT and Ciclovia cycling infrastructure projects to become a shining example of sustainable, efficient transit.
According to Edgar Sandoval, former General Manager of Transmilenio, Bogotá’s BRT system, cost 10 times less than a traditional mass transit system. The Transmilenio takes one lane in either direction on Bogotá’s highways. The stations are in the middle of the highways, accessed by buses traveling in both directions. Typical trip times have been cut in half with a ridership of 1.3 million people per day.
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