Best public transit is still the bus


As American cities face crushing traffic, BRT (bus rapid transit) systems could offer one solution.

You have arguments all over the country about public transit. At the same time, most of us get around in cars. Outside of Boston, New York, Washington, San Francisco and maybe Portland, automobiles are the dominant type of transportation.

Yet BRT is something I’ve seen working well in Asia and Latin America. Closer to home, Cleveland has had enormous success with a BRT line. It’s a fraction of the cost of putting in rail. You do a dedicated road for this special kind of bus that holds a huge number of people and it travels on its own special path.

BRTs are quick and cheap to put in. They can easily be stretched into suburbs that may not be populous enough for rail. The stops on a BRT line are more like transit stops than crummy little bus stops.

Let’s face it, traditional buses have a bad reputation, but I think BRT systems would earn high acceptance. They are a premium product that comes at a tiny fraction of the cost to build and to operate what you have with rail. (I should note that traditional buses offer some really cheap options for interstate travel.)

So many cities around the country face crushing traffic. We have to be creative and come up with alternatives. As somebody who travels a lot, you see these BRTs in other countries and think, “This could be a good idea for us.”

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