Title

BUS RAPID TRANSIT OR LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT--HOW TO DECIDE? LOS ANGELES CASE STUDY

Authors

J M. Stutsman

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2002

Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - environmental impact, land use - impacts, policy - environment, mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, mode - subway/metro, mode - bus rapid transit

Keywords

Traffic, Ridership, Public opinion, Political factors, Political aspects, Patronage (Transit ridership), Noise pollution, Noise, Major investment study, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles County (California), Light rail transit, Environmental impacts, Environmental impact analysis, Environmental effects, Decision making, Cost effectiveness, Bus rapid transit

Abstract

The results of a real-world study comparing bus rail transit (BRT) with light rail transit (LRT) in the same corridor are highlighted. A major investment study (MIS)--environmental impact study (EIS) process was used, including community perspectives obtained from a significant outreach effort. In effect, this study represents a "plan-off" competition between the two modes, including ridership, cost-effectiveness, environmental impact, and community and political response. In 1994 the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, predecessor agency to the current Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, environmentally cleared an Exposition Park Branch Line, which was an LRT branch line to the Los Angeles--Long Beach Blue Line. Because of financial constraints, the project languished until last year, when it was reconsidered through an MIS process for the Mid-City--Westside Transit Corridor Study. The MIS also called for a side-by-side comparison with BRT in the EIS--environmental impact review, which was publicly released on April 13, 2001. The findings to date indicate that LRT is environmentally superior to BRT (especially in relation to noise and traffic impacts) and has more new daily transit riders, whereas BRT is somewhat more cost-effective. From a community standpoint, LRT has generated more positive and negative reactions, perhaps because of the novelty of BRT to the general public in the western United States.