Transportation systems use many types of standards to evaluate different aspects of their structure, coordination, and efficiency. One of the most recent and most popular standards is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for bus transportation. This is an evaluation system for BRT corridors based upon the best international practices.
What is BRT exactly? The BRT Standard is defined as a high-quality, mass-bus-transportation system based on a quick, comfortable and cost-effective service at metro-level capacities. In this manner, it is not surprising that it is described as the “over-ground metro”
The main objectives of the BRT Standard are to ensure a world class quality system for all users that will also have a positive impact on the economy and the environment.
The system strives to determine a worldwide definition for BRT, identifying best practices and acting as a rating system which evaluates and recognizes BRT corridors as attributed by their design and management. To that end, a specific criterion evaluates and defines new BRT systems design and classifies existing ones. According to the criteria they fulfill, they will be certified as Basic, Bronze-standard, Silver-standard or Gold-standard.
The BRT Standard was established in 2012 by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) as a pioneering system. Since the start, the mission has been for all BRT corridors to achieve a minimum quality of service that would benefit users, the economy and the environment.
The BRT Standard establishes five essential qualities that systems must meet to be evaluated as such. Each of these elements has a score which means, the higher the grade the better adapted to BRT Standards. These are:
- Dedicated Right-of-Way
- Busway Alignment
- Off-board Fare Collection
- Intersection Treatments
- Platform-level Boarding
However, there are other criterion that could increase the score, these include; service planning, infrastructure, communications level, access and integration. Notwithstanding, systems can be penalized with point deductions for shortcomings or errors.
Currently, there are only seven systems qualified as Gold-standard BRT. One of these is the Transmilieno system in Bogota, Colombia, which has an optimal planning system credited to the GoalBus® version for regulating authorities. It must be taken into account that Transmilenio has 1,800 BRT buses, 775 feeder buses and 5,339 zone operational buses that run through 142 BRT routes, 109 feeder routes and 246 zonal routes. Transmilenio is the perfect example of how Goal Systems’ optimization software helps transportation structures to adapt to BRT services both at unitary and driver management level.
The optimization systems for BRT are necessary to exceed the minimum requirements to be able to obtain any of the standard certificates, especially the highest.