Barriers to planning and implementing Bus Rapid Transit systems

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, planning - integration, planning - promotion, ridership - perceptions, planning - service improvement


Bus Rapid Transit, Mass transit, Busways, Bus priority systems


Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, is now operating in many cities of emerging and developed economies around the world. It provides affordable connectivity, and fast and reliable services for a range of requirements. This paper presents barriers to introducing BRT based on the authors' experience in planning, implementing and improving these systems in cities of emerging countries. We conclude that most issues are related to institutional, financial, legal and political sectors. In particular, BRT planning faces: (i) institutional complexities and lack of technical capacity; (ii) lack of alignment among stakeholders; (iii) strong promotion of competing modes; (iv) perception of BRT as a lower quality mode; (v) traditional bias towards vehicle capacity expansions; (vi) opposition from existing bus operators; and (vii) lack of community participation. BRT implementation barriers include: (i) underestimating the implementation effort, i.e. optimism bias; (ii) discontinuities due to political cycles; (iii) lack of national policies supporting BRT development; (iv) insufficient funding for adequate implementation; and (v) rushed inauguration. By addressing and documenting common issues of many real world experiences, we expect to help cities enhance their ability to advance BRT as part of their portfolio of sustainable mobility improvements.


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


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