The following U-Tube presentation of Paris’s Mobilien BRT is interesting and shows what buses can do in congested cities, such as Paris. The observation can be made: “that for a few dollars or Euros more, would not the modern tram bring more benefits to both the city and transit customers on these routes?” The articulated diesel buses used by Paris’s Mobilien, pollutes the air and spews diesel particulate a proven carcinogen, while LRT, run by electricity, is very environmental friendly. If electric buses were to have been used, then the cost difference between BRT and LRT would greatly decrease. The higher commercial speeds for Mobilien are achieved by using dedicated rights-of-ways and preemptive signaling, which by strange coincidence is more basic that a trams, yet there is no howls of protest that BRT will cause accidents at every street corner as we constantly hear from the anti-LRT crowed.
In France, exhaustive studies done between bus and tram and a few interesting points have been made. To be competitive with a tram BRT must be guided, like the O-Bahn or the various proprietary GLT systems. Unguided BRT has a poor record in attracting new ridership has transit customers just think it is a bus and is the main reason that GLT vehicles (buses) look like trams! LRT lines cost about 30% more to build than GLT, but with the higher price for light-rail, one gets higher productivity, higher capacities, and higher commercial speeds and is for those reasons, many towns have opted (most by public vote) to build with light rail.
One interesting aspect of France’s LRT program is that one third of the cost of tramway is set aside for landscaping, etc. but with BRT the subsidies must be used for road layout or other measures which facilitate bus services, such as dedicated bus lanes, studies to give buses priority at intersections and can’t be used for landscaping or public amenities, which in France, is an important concern when one is planning for rapid transit.