Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit


Trade off analysis, Funding, Financing, Federal aid, Comparison studies, Bus rapid transit, Alternatives analysis


Bus rapid transit (BRT) has emerged as a frequent option in the development of the long-range transit plans for urban areas in the United States. This has come about because of the growing number of BRT success stories in the United States and around the world, because of a desire to consider lower-cost investment options at a time of limited resources, and because of encouragement from FTA. The key to the success of BRT is its potential to increase transit service quality and ridership meaningfully at an affordable price. As the BRT concept is evolving, issues in regard to federal funding for BRT investments are critical to localities considering BRT investments. Not surprisingly, there is a growing interest in how best to fund BRT and specifically how best to position BRT with respect to existing federal funding programs and programming processes. A review was conducted of the background context on BRT including the definition and cost history of BRT. There is also a discussion of the current and possible future eligibility for existing and proposed funding programs at the federal level. Three alternative strategies were considered: eliminating the fixed-guideway restrictions of the New Starts Program without turning it into a conventional bus program, expanding the funds available enough under the Bus Capital Program to fund BRT with incentives to encourage true BRT projects, and creating an entirely new BRT funding program. The conclusion addresses issues to be considered as BRT federal funding eligibility is determined.