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Advanced Network Planning for Bus Rapid Transit The “Quickway” Model as a Modal Alternative to “Light Rail Lite”

Transit planning in the United States has tended toward viewing BRT as an analogue to light rail transit, with similar operating patterns. This model, referred to as “Light Rail Lite,” is compared to international best practices, which have often favored the development of a grade-separated bus infrastructure (“Quickways”) that in turn supports a varied mix of all-stops, express, and branching services. This model, dubbed the Quickway model, evolved out of the practical necessity of cities to meet ambitious ridership or mode split targets. The two models are contrasted along the key dimensions of BRT service, and significant differences are identified. Three international case studies—Ottawa, Bogotá, and Brisbane—are reviewed for their particular application of this model and of the results they have obtained. Four domestic cities are compared to these international examples: Eugene, Oregon, and Los Angeles are profiled for their adoption of the Light Rail Lite model, and two other cities, Pittsburgh and Miami, are profiled for their BRT implementations which share elements in common with the Quickway model. A set of lessons is drawn from this comparison, including a review of those conditions which may favor the adoption of either model or light rail in any given urban context. Recommendations are offered at the level of the Federal Government, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and planning and engineering firms, for the proper planning and evaluation of Quickway-based alternatives. An appendix introduces a fifth domestic case study, a Quickway-based planning effort sponsored by a nonprofit organization for the San Diego region, and the preliminary results of this effort are reviewed.