BRT TOD: Leveraging transit oriented development with bus rapid transit investments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - north america, place - south america, place - urban, mode - bus rapid transit, land use - transit oriented development


Transit oriented development, Bus rapid transit, Place-making, Land use, Urban form


Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems have gained prominence worldwide as a cost-effective alternative to urban rail investments. However, some question the city-shaping potential of BRT, in part due to a belief it delivers fewer regional accessibility benefits than rail, but also to the social stigma some assign to bus-based forms of mass mobility. Notwithstanding the successes of cities like Curitiba and Ottawa at integrating BRT and land development (Cervero, 1998. The Transit Metropolis: A Global Inquiry, Island Press, Washington, D.C.), doubt remains over BRT’s ability to promote less car-dependent, more sustainable patterns of urban growth in rapidly motorizing and suburbanizing cities.

This paper probes the opportunities and challenges of leveraging transit-oriented development (TOD) through BRT investments. The policy context of BRT and urban growth is first described. Evidence on the influences of BRT on urban development and land values is then presented followed by discussions on density and ridership performance of BRT cities. Attention next turns to the fundamental tension of mediating between the logistical and place-making functions of BRT stations. Failure to do so has generally resulted in low-cost, high-performance investments at the expense of suppressing TOD opportunities. Case experiences in Bogota Colombia and Ahmedabad India underscore that near-term mobility gains took precedence over shaping urban growth over the long-term. The paper closes with discussions on implementation. Based on a survey of 27 global cities with BRT systems, tools introduced to date to leverage TOD are reviewed. Survey respondents also commented on barriers that stand in the way of BRT TOD in their cities. While BRT is often viewed as being suited to serving lower density, outlying settings, it is believed that under the right conditions, BRT can also be as influential in inducing urban redevelopment and shaping urban growth in more sustainable formats.


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


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