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Center Identification Number: 350-08

Project Title: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Institute

Principal Investigator: 

Dennis Hinebaugh, Transit Program Director


Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida \
Tampa, Florida

I. Project Objective

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has continually promoted the need for better and more effective bus service in the transit industry. In 1998, the FTA issued grant opportunities for the demonstration and deployment of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in the United States. The FTA maintains that advancements in vehicle technology, simulation systems, traffic engineering and intelligent transportation systems have enhanced the industry's ability to improve bus transit service in the U.S. BRT can provide significantly faster operating speeds as well as improved travel time, mobility, economic growth, and environmental quality in a community. In specific applications, it is also a flexible and low-cost alternative to rail systems that can match the efficiency and quality of rail.

The Federal Transit Administration has developed the Bus Rapid Transit Initiative by creating a Demonstration Program consisting of a consortium of transit properties, consultants, and transportation professionals to continuously share information, innovation, and progress on all BRT projects. As envisioned, the BRT Institute at CUTR will supplement the FTA Demonstration Program by creating a central location for training, technical assistance, research, innovation, and evaluation of existing and proposed BRT projects. The Institute will also serve as a resource to transit and transportation professionals as well as communities throughout the United States who may not be consortium members, but may have an interest in BRT or its components.

II. Project Abstract

It is envisioned that the CUTR BRT Institute would act as staff to the FTA and BRT Consortium members in aiding to disseminate worldwide knowledge on BRT "Lessons Learned" through information sharing and research. The Institute would survey consortium members on an annual basis to ensure that services provided are meeting the needs of transit systems, consultants, and researchers.

Mission of the CUTR BRT Institute:

Facilitate the sharing of knowledge and innovation for increasing the speed, efficiency and reliability of high capacity bus service through the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit systems in the United States. This will be achieved by using advanced technologies and methodologies developed in the field of ITS, bus, and rail systems. The BRT Institute will employ a series of resources including workshops, conferences, publications, research, and knowledgeable staff to support the goals of the program.

III. Task Descriptions

Task 1. Workshops

The BRT Institute would be responsible for assisting in developing and hosting BRT Workshops throughout the life of the Demonstration Program. Hosting the workshops would include working with the Consortium members to identify topic areas, meeting locations, and speakers/moderators/discussants. The BRT Institute would also plan and/or coordinate arrangements for accommodations, meals, tours, receptions, etc., for the workshop participants. This coordination assistance would allow FTA's BRT officials to concentrate on the Demonstration Program and any important BRT-related issues at hand.

Task 2. Clearinghouse

The BRT Institute would serve as a clearinghouse for all current BRT-related information, keeping up-to-date on ITS research and the status of BRT-type projects throughout the country and the world that may have application to the Program. Through our current CUTR Resource Information Center, we would be able to help interested users retrieve general BRT information, as well as information on the progress of the Consortium member projects.

Task 3. Technical Assistance/Support

The BRT Institute would be called on to make presentations and/or assist new systems considering BRT applications in their communities. This may involve presentations to boards or other governmental agencies, and/or meetings with agency staff to discuss technologies, options, implementation issues, etc. The BRT Institute would pull from its own experiences as well as from the prior experiences of Consortium members to provide better assistance to interested transit agencies.

The BRT Institute would also coordinate the "peer-to-peer" advice network. That is, to facilitate discussion between experts and individuals/systems requiring information in particular BRT topic areas. For example, if someone at a transit system wanted to get more in-depth knowledge about a specific BRT-related issue, the Institute would be able to utilize its knowledge of national experts and Consortium members to be able to connect that person with the best expert/agency in that particular subject area.

The BRT Institute would also be available to review early-phase planning documents from BRT Consortium members to provide additional insight/advice.

Finally, the BRT Institute would be responsible for developing a quarterly BRT Newsletter. The newsletter would include summaries of related research, status of BRT projects in the US and throughout the world, upcoming events, guest articles, etc. and would be disseminated to the public transportation community with the specific intent of providing timely, useful information to those currently working on or exploring the possible implementation of BRT systems in their communities.

Task 4. Research

The BRT Institute would conduct new research in areas related to BRT or develop "best practices" manuals that would assist current Consortium members as well as other interested transit agencies. Topic areas for further research may come directly from FTA or through one of the five Consortium subcommittees. Areas of research might include smart card technology, low floor bus performance, marketing components of successful BRT systems, bus signal preemption, etc. One major area for research may be in developing the component costs ("rules of thumb," ranges) for BRT system components necessary for the development of a BRT system in an MIS evaluation.

Task 5. Project Evaluation

The BRT Institute would also conduct and/or assist in the evaluation of current and future BRT projects as they are completed through on-board surveys, performance evaluations, and development of "lessons learned" summaries. This would also include assistance in developing and evaluating proposals and participation in technical advisory review committees.

Task 6. Final Report

The information from all previous tasks will be compiled into a final report that will summarize the results of the progress of the RT Institute on an annual basis.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate students will be used to assist in the data gathering, entry, and analyses.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects

Will be coordinated with APTA and FTA initiatives in this area.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities

The results of this analysis will be highlighted through interim memoranda and a final report. The results of this analysis will be made available to transit agencies and others as requested. Presentations will be made through national forums including APTA, and TRB conferences as well as specific BRT Workshops and conferences. The final report will also be available on the NCTR website.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project

The purpose of this program area is to create a knowledge base to be used to serve as assistance to other BRT interests.

VIII. TRB Keywords

Public transit, Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, APTS, busway


National Center for Transit Research at the Center For Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 Tampa, FL 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 (813) 974-5168 Comments: