April 2010

New BRT Projects Gather Momentum Across the U.S.

by Nicole Schlosser, Associate Editor

This year, METRO's BRT 25 survey results feature 43 projects, 42 of which are located in the U.S., with one in Canada.

There are plenty of new projects this time around, including the Swift BRT from Everett, Wash.-based Community Transit, which debuted the service late last year; three upcoming BRT lines from Chicago's Pace Suburban Bus; the Escondido Rapid Bus run by San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG); Livermore, Calif.-based Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority's Rapid project and the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority's four current BRT lines.

Seattle's King County Metro Transit added a sixth BRT line to its RapidRide project; the F Line is slated to begin running in 2013.

Back on the list is the $24 million Altamonte Springs, Fla. LYNX FlexBus project. Coming back from a delay, the system is now slated for completion in 2011.

As with last year, the region producing the highest number of new BRT systems was the West Coast, with a total of 16 projects expected to begin operation between 2010 and 2017. Combined, BRT projects in this region total $2.3 billion. In Stockton, Calif., San Joaquin RTD's Route 44 Airport Express is scheduled to begin operating in September 2010. SANDAG's new SuperLoop line will feature the region's first gasoline-electric hybrid public buses with service every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during non-peak hours.

Project funding ranges from FTA Very Small Starts and other federal funding (80 percent) to state support (28 percent) and local backing, primarily in the form of sales tax (64 percent). This year, based on the projects surveyed, it appears that federal funding was up slightly and local funding doubled, while state support dipped slightly, compared to last year (31 percent).

Funding was once again the most common challenge cited this year, at 36 percent, with land use and project coordination rolling in at 24 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Many respondents commented that they had to react to strict time constraints to obtain funding or deal with delays in receiving support. Other difficulties noted were construction, at 12 percent, and gaining community support (eight percent).

Transit agencies plan to purchase a total of 102 vehicles in 2010, a slight drop from the 119 anticipated purchases in 2009's survey. On average, this comes to approximately two buses per project listed.

The majority of survey respondents are looking to fuel their buses with clean diesel, at 64 percent, with nearly as many also selecting hybrid-electric propulsion, at 60 percent. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed chose CNG, up significantly from 2009's 14 percent.

For ITS use, agencies mainly selected passenger information (100 percent), signal manipulation (96 percent) and voice annunciation (84 percent). Respondents also mentioned plans to offer Wi-Fi to passengers (King County Metro), provide a FasTrak facility with variable pricing for solo drivers (SANDAG) and add NextBus signs (Aspen, Colo.'s Roaring Fork Transportation Authority).

To view the chart, click here.


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