Workshop grows bus rapid transit (BRT) as a sustainable transport solution for Asian cities
While bus rapid transit (BRT) has been most widely implemented in Latin America, Asian cities are emerging as the next great market for BRT. Together, these two regions account for 63% and 26% of global BRT ridership respectively, though that balance is shifting. With China and India already boasting the two largest urban populations in the world – and growing every day – BRT offers a cost-effective, high-capacity transport solution with fewer barriers to implementation than other mass transport modes, like metro. These and other benefits are contributing to the growth of BRT in Asia, with Lanzhou, China; Bhopal, Indore, and Surat, India; and Lahore, Pakistan all launching BRT systems in the past 18 months.
These were all topics of conversation at the regional Workshop on Quantifying the Environmental, Social, and Economic Benefits from BRT Systems, held June 24 – 25, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The workshop was organized by the Asia LEDS Partnership and hosted by the Malaysia Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), with additional funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the LEDS Global Partnership Transport Working Group and support from Clean Air Asia, EMBARQ, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).
The workshop aimed to improve capacity on quantifying the varied benefits of BRT systems, drawing on experience from cities across Asia. BRT’s contributions to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were a particular focus, along with frameworks to quantify other social and economic benefits and inform integrated planning and decision-making.
Sessions from the workshop included:
- Hands-on training on the Transport Emissions Evaluation Models for Projects (TEEMP) tool to quantify greenhouse gas mitigation benefits of BRT systems;
- Discussion on economic, social, and health impacts of BRT systems, and review of frameworks and methodologies for quantifying these impacts and related cost-benefit analysis; and
- Case studies highlighting lessons learned from implemented BRT systems, in areas that included governance, institutional setup, and marketing and communications.
Safer, healthier, and more sustainable: EMBARQ research sets foundation for BRT planning in Asian cities
Anjali Mahendra and Binoy Mascarenhas of EMBARQ India led a total of five sessions between them, covering an overview of BRT benefits, health impact assessments in BRT planning, road safety audits, branding and communication guidelines for BRT, and cases from Asian cities. They drew heavily from EMBARQ research on these topics, particularly the two recent publications “Integrating Health Benefits into Transportation Planning and Policy in India” and “Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of BRT Systems. These sessions also addressed participants’ questions on governance, land use planning, equity, data availability, and other issues particularly relevant to BRT planning in Asian cities. In a post-workshop survey, EMBARQ’s session providing an overview of the benefits of BRT was considered “very useful” by 95% of respondents.
Other speakers were from the Philippines Department of Transportation and Communications, the host agency SPAD in Kuala Lumpur, Clean Air Asia, CEPT University in India, ITDP China, and the United Nations University – Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS).
BRT continues to expand in Asian cities
Roughly 70 attendees from seven countries in South and Southeast Asia actively participated in hands-on exercises and discussions. Attendees also joined a guided tour of Kuala Lumpur’s monorail system led by a team from ITDP and explored the city’s improved pedestrian facilities.
With several Asian cities currently planning BRT corridors – including Kuala Lumpur and Iskandar, Malaysia; Manila and Cebu, Philippines; Bangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, and several other cities in India – this workshop laid the foundation for the successful scale-up of BRT in Asia, helping to bring sustainable mobility to the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region and connecting the leaders and decision-makers behind this driving force.
More information on the workshop, including presentations, is available from Asia LEDS Partnership.