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Smart Transportation

ST-1.3 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Energy and Environmental Impacts of BRT in APEC Economies


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can help Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies reduce oil consumption and associated emissions of air pollution and greenhouse gases. BRT also can help mitigate growing traffic congestion and encourage more sustainable urban development.

BRT systems typically include dedicated bus corridors, fare collection prior to boarding, high quality stations, intelligent transportation technologies, and other features designed to maximize convenience and reduce travel times. BRT systems also may be associated with other improvements to the urban environment, such as transit-oriented development and improved facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The first modern BRT was implemented in Brazil in the 1970s. By 2010, at least 120 cities operated either BRT systems or dedicated bus corridors, serving nearly 27 million passengers per weekday. Many APEC economies now have experience with BRT, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and China.

This paper reviews the environmental benefits of three of the world’s leading BRT systems: México City, México; Guangzhou, China; and Bogotá, Colombia. The criteria for reviewing projects included the availability of data and whether the project is located in an APEC member economy. Bogotá is not located in an APEC member economy, but is included because it is one of the world’s leading BRT systems, the CO2 reductions associated with the project have been well documented, and it provides a good model for APEC economies.

This paper also briefly discusses the experience with three other major BRT projects in the APEC region: the Brisbane, Australia busways; the Jakarta, Indonesia TransJakarta BRT; and the Chongqing, China BRT, Lines 1-4. Although data on these projects is not as robust as data available for México City, Bogotá, and Guangzhou, each has unique attributes and lessons-learned that may be important for future APEC BRT systems.

The project relied primarily on data from existing sources, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, and studies sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Environmental Strategies program. The parameters reviewed include reductions in CO2 and local pollution emissions, reductions in fuel consumption, and other benefits, such as travel time savings and land use impacts. The analysis showed significant reductions compared with project baselines, including:

  • CO2 reductions as high as 61.8 percent;
  • diesel consumption reductions of 50 percent or more; and
  • criteria pollution reductions as high as 92 percent.

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