Bus Rapid Transit versus Heavy Rail in suburban Sydney – Comparing successive iterations of a proposed heavy rail line project to the pre-existing BRT network

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, mode - rail, operations - frequency, place - australasia, planning - service level


Bus Rapid Transit, Mass transit, Rail projects, Travel time, Transportation modes


Both research and international experience have shown that, whilst BRT services allow suburban areas to be provided with a reasonable level of transit access at an acceptable cost, Heavy Rail offers higher perceived benefits to communities even where BRT performs the same or better in terms of travel time, fares or subsidy levels. There is strong support for the extension of Heavy Rail into the North West Area of Sydney, despite an extensive network of frequent and fast bus services operating along three busways and providing single seat service between low density residential areas, regional centres and the CBD of Sydney. This has led to a number of proposals since 1998 for the North West Rail Link that is now under construction and will replace most direct bus routes with rail feeder services. Previous research demonstrated that the project would have ambiguous benefits for existing public transport users in terms of frequency, travel time and fares. This paper examines the various iterations of the project to explore whether the succession of proposals has led to a project that will provide a better or worse level of service, in terms of travel time, than either the initial proposals or the existing network of services.


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


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