Understanding bus rapid transit route ridership drivers: An empirical study of Australian BRT systems

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, place - australasia, infrastructure - bus/tram priority, infrastructure - right of way, operations - frequency, operations - service span, ridership - drivers


Bus Rapid Transit, Ridership, Service level, Public transport infrastructure


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are an increasingly popular public transport option internationally. They provide rail-like quality for bus services for a fraction of the cost of fixed rail. Many claims of high and increasing ridership have resulted from BRT system development; however, it is unclear exactly which aspects of BRT system design drive this. This paper explores whether BRT design features, among other influences, significantly increase ridership above and beyond the impact of service levels. It does so using a series of regression models undertaken on 77 BRT and non-BRT bus routes in Australia which is known for its diversity in BRT route design. Explanatory variables used included service level, frequency, speed, stop spacing, share of segregated right of way, vehicle accessibility, employment and residential density, car ownership levels and BRT infrastructure quality. Five models explored the role of these variables. Two models found that service level dominates predictions of boardings per route km although they suffer from endogeneity. Further models control for this influence by modelling boardings per vehicle km. Overall results suggest that some BRT infrastructure treatments such as right of way have a significant impact on ridership but the influence of infrastructure is within the context of high service levels. The role of accessible vehicles has also been highlighted in this research, although more research is needed to clarify this influence. The paper concludes with a discussion of the various influences on ridership and recommendations for existing policy and future research.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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