Examine route-specific opportunities and constraints, and assess corridor market potential for transit services prior to implementing BRT running way improvements.
National experience developing BRT
Made Public Date


United States

TCRP Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner's Guide


The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner's Guide supports transportation professionals by identifying and assessing the costs, impacts, and effectiveness of bus rapid transit (BRT) components. The Guide covers running ways, stations, vehicles, operating strategies, ITS applications, and branding. ITS applications focus on transit signal priority, transit automatic vehicle location (AVL), security, vehicle guidance, fare payment, and traveler information.

Surveys were conducted with selected transit agencies that implemented or planned to implement BRT systems. Information was collected on ridership, capital and operating costs, community acceptance, associated land-use development, funding support, support for system expansion, improved mobility, quality of service, travel time, comfort, dwell time, reliability, convenience, safety, security, improved frequency, and wait time. The survey data were compared to previous related research (TCRP Report 90) and updated findings were input into the Practitioner's Guide.

Lessons Learned

Guidelines for integrating and assessing BRT components were presented in the Practitioner's Guide. BRT systems were found to be dependent on local needs, conditions, attitudes, and resources. Planners, policy makers, and transportation professionals were responsible for identifying appropriate corridors, analyzing options, selecting and assessing desired BRT components, and preparing an investment and operations plan. The following key steps were identified to assist transit agencies with developing and analyzing BRT components and alternatives:

  • Evaluate the performance of the existing transportation system and identify factors that will influence corridor development. Considerations include: transit ridership, peak-period congestion on major roadways, population and employment growth, property and construction costs, land development impacts, and community desire to improve transit.
  • Identify markets for BRT and how well these markets will be served. A strong central business district (e.g., with more than 50,000 jobs) and high-density corridors are supportive of BRT. Market segments include riders diverted from local bus and automobiles as well as new trips. Determine current and future transit ridership profiles (origin-to-destination patterns), expected BRT ridership, and maximum load section (point) volumes. Candidate markets include corridors with sufficient ridership potential to allow frequent all day service (preferably at headways not greater than 10 to 12 minutes).
  • Select Type of Running Way. Selecting the type of BRT running way can depend upon the availability of an off-street right-of-way; the width, continuity, and operational characteristics of arterial streets; and the ability to integrate BRT operations with existing transit service.
  • Recognize Public Preferences. Take into account community and agency preferences regarding BRT routes, however, the public’s preference for a BRT should have support from the transit agency responsible for operating the system. Similarly, operational treatments such as bus lanes, transit signal priority, and queue jump/bypass lanes should have support from street transportation agencies.
  • Integrate BRT with Existing Bus Services. BRT components should be packaged into an integrated system of services, facilities, and amenities that reflect local needs, opportunities, and resources. Existing bus routes on streets or serving a BRT corridor may need to be restructured.

BRT improves mobility and efficiency in a transportation corridor. Overall, transit agencies should examine route-specific opportunities and constraints, and assess corridor market potential for transit services prior to implementing BRT running way improvements. Studies involving major capital investments (such as a busway) should include an alternatives analysis performed in accordance with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) guidelines. Proposals should be derived from an objective analysis that provides a reasonable range of investment options, including a base case. Base case scenarios provide a reference point to which the incremental benefits and costs information for a variety of alternatives can be compared. With numerous BRT systems currently in operation information on the costs and effectiveness of BRT components is readily available.

TCRP Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner's Guide

TCRP Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner's Guide
Publication Sort Date
Kittelson & Associates, in association with Herbert S. Levinson Transportation Consultants and DMJM-Harris
Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board

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Goal Areas

Focus Areas Taxonomy: