Posts Tagged ‘Rapid Bus’

“Misguided” Busway Part 2

September 1, 2010

More news about Cambridge’s “Misguided” bus or BRT. Instead of being simple and cheap alternative to a ‘rail’ solution, the Cambridge BRT is ending up costing  more than reinstating the rail line for DMU/EMU or tram service.

The real question needed to be answered will be: “For all the cost and delay, will the Cambridge guided (BRT) bus attract its projected customers or will it merely be regarded as a local transit curiosity and not attract the all important motorist from the car?”

The yet to be used Cambridge Guided Busway

Guided Busway to Open Next Spring

Chris Elliott

The guided busway may finally be up and running by next spring, the News can reveal.

Sources close to the project have disclosed that at the current rate of progress, it could take about seven or eight months to finish the concrete track completely and get it ready for the first buses to roll.

That will mean an opening date either in March or April 2011 – making the busway more than TWO YEARS late.

As the News reported a few days ago, Cambridgeshire county councillors are due to examine a progress report on the troubled scheme at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, September 7.

The report says that contractor BAM Nuttall has still not fixed six defects in the northern section of the busway, which runs between St Ives and Cambridge.

However, the company is making “good progress” on completing the southern section at Trumpington, and is expected to be finished there by mid-December.

If BAM Nuttall does complete the southern section by mid-December, the council will give the contractor a month to rectify the faults on the northern section – and if that does not happen, the council will step in to do the job itself.

Together with subsequent checks and bus trials, the News understands that this could stretch out the work until March or April – although if con¬struction of the southern section is completed more quickly, the timetable might be brought forward.

The defects identified by the council include raising the level of parts of the maintenance track alongside the busway, which has been flooded, and remedial work on the viaduct at St Ives, where rainwater has leaked through an unsealed joint.

A county council spokesman said the council could not confirm that the busway would open by the spring.
He said: “Whilst the contractor has said they will complete the route by mid-December, we are in their hands until the work has been completed.
“We are very clear that the defects must be rectified and once the route is handed over we will know exactly what work the council will need to carry out and a more precise idea of how long that will take.
“It is frustrating that BAM Nuttall have not finished the job as yet and although damages of over £7 million have already been deducted from the contractor all we really want is the work to be completed so we can get the route open and passengers can start using it.”
Mike Mason, South Cambridgeshire district councillor for Histon and Impington, criticised the delays.

He said: “It’s a political disaster, and it’s never going to make money. The council have completely failed and there is no credibility in any of their statements because they’ve made so many predictions that haven’t happened.

“Any of the political parties on the council could have stopped this a long time ago, and all three political parties share equal blame, but the Cambridge taxpayer is going to pay the price.”


£76m Leigh Guided Busway on hold over cost fears – From the Manchester Evening News

August 31, 2010

Postings in other blogs have been painting an all too rosy a picture of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and this post should level the playing field somewhat. Just as a note, the Cambridge “Misguided Busway” is built on a former railway formation which greatly reduced initial cost estimates and as the guided bus project now stands, it would have been cheaper to reinstate the railway instead! Imagine, a modern LRT line with lawned rights-of-ways, rather than this start concrete guide way needed for the BRT.

The yet to be used Cambridge Guided Busway

£76m Leigh Guided Busway on hold over cost fears

Alan Salter – August 31, 2010Manchester Evening News

A controversial £76m busway plan in Greater Manchester has been put on hold.

A review has been ordered into the Leigh Guided Busway project – which has been on the drawing board since 1996 – even though contracts for vital preparatory work worth £1.3m have already been awarded.

The move comes after Richard Knowles – an Oldham councillor and Salford University professor of transport geography – was sent to Cambridge to see a similar scheme.

The Cambridge busway is infamous in the transport world for spiralling costs and delays. The bill for the 25-mile busway, between Huntingdon and Cambridge, has risen from £54m to £116m and could even reach £160m by the time it opens.

Now, the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition which controls the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority has voted to review the Leigh busway – despite Labour opposition.

The project – linking Wigan, Leigh, Salford and Manchester – would see a special lane built for buses on the East Lancs Road. Four miles of the route – between Leigh and Ellenbrook – would see specially-adapted buses using ‘guided’ concrete tracks along the path of an old railway line.

Keith Whitmore, vice-chairman of the authority, said: “We are talking about a review which will take weeks rather than months. It would look at the costings and the way it operates in the light of what has happened in Cambridge.

“I visited Utrecht where they rejected the building of a second busway and decided to build a tram line instead. There is also the question of how the Leigh busway would operate – who exactly will use it has never really been tackled.

“If the review shows that everything is fine, then it can go ahead. But there has never been unanimous support for it.”

Dubbed the ‘misguided busway’ by opponents, the project has been seen in some quarters as a sop to Wigan and Leigh – which are not included in plans to expand the Metrolink.

For more on Cambridge’s ‘Misguided‘ busway:


From the Light Rail Now Folks: Busting “BRT” Mythology – LA’s “Orange Line” Busway – “Just Like Rail, But Cheaper?”

September 3, 2009


It seems the media and local politicians keep referring to Bus Rapid Transit or BRT as a transportation solution for METRO Vancouver’s ‘lesser taxpayers’ in the Fraser Valley, yet very few politicians and media types clearly understand what BRT is, or even how successful it has been in past applications. BRT despite the hype and hoopla, has not had a successful career and its more expensive cousin ‘guided-bus’, has not provided the modal break-through that was anticipated. Yet this is not reported in the media!

Ask the BRT lobby in the Metro area these two questions:

  1. “If BRT is so successful, why has Ottawa, after spending hundred’s of millions of dollars on busways for BRT, instead has now invested in Diesel LRT (TramTrain) and now wanting to build with LRT instead?”
  2. Why, in Adelaide Australia, after building with expensive O-Bahn guided-bus, no more BRT being planned for and transit officials instead building more O-bahn, refurbished an 80 year old tramway and brought it up to light rail standards?

Busting “BRT” Mythology

Light Rail Now Project Team – October 2006

With this commentary, Light Rail Now continues a series we’re calling Busting “BRT” Mythology – a discussion intended to examine claims of so-called “Bus Rapid Transit” by its proponents and to evaluate and contrast these claims with actual experience. This article is the third installment in this series.

Promoters of so-called “Bus Rapid Transit” (“BRT”) have been promulgating a wide range of claims about this mode of bus deployment – mostly on the theme that it’s “rapid transit on rubber tires” and “just like rail transit, but cheaper”. Typically, “BRT” is promoted as a supposedly superior alternative to light rail transit (LRT).

The hype surrounding a proposed “BRT” system in San Bernardino is typical. A spokeswoman for San Bernardino County’s transit agency, Omnitrans, told the Press-Enterprise (30 January 2006) that “The idea is to use rubber-tired vehicles, but operate them much like a light-rail service.” Thus, “You can become more time competitive with the automobile without the additional cost of light rail.”

Los Angeles’s new “Orange Line” busway is perhaps the premier recent example of “BRT” – an approximately 14-mile route, almost entirely on an exclusive former railway alignment except for approximately a half-mile loop in mixed traffic on the western end (serving Warner Center). The line, installed at a cost of $330 million, currently serves 13 stations, linking the western part of the San Fernando Valley with the North Hollywood Red Line rail rapid transit (metro) station. (See map below.) in many respects, the route and infrastructure do resemble those of LRT, with well-defined stations with platforms (except in the mixed-traffic segment), ticket vending machines (TVMs), shelters, and other appurtenances and amenities. Thus, the “Orange Line” represents an excellent case study of how well the claims for “BRT” – especially that it’s “just like rail” – match the reality.
[Map: Transit Rider website]


So, how does the “Orange Line” actually measure up in comparison to LRT and other rail systems? in our article Rail Transit vs. “Bus Rapid Transit”: Comparative Success and Potential in Attracting Ridership, several aspects of the “Orange Line” busway are contrasted with those of LA’s new Gold Line LRT system serving the Pasadena area east of central LA. As the article notes,

because of electric propulsion, better level crossing protection, and other factors, the Gold Line LRT provides an 18% faster schedule speed than the Orange Line “BRT”.

Furthermore, based on the fact that the “Orange Line” operates in a more mature corridor with far greater density, and serves “at least 40% more major activity centers than does the Gold Line”, our analysis concludes that “the Orange Line busway’s ridership is approximately 24% lower than one would expect from a comparable LRT service in the same corridor.”

However, performance statistics and calculations can reveal only so much – and certainly, there are even more deficiencies in “BRT” operations than our previous analysis can address. As usual, “a photo is worth a thousand words” … so selected photos – most of them taken by Light Rail Now Project representatives during a recent visit to LA – may help to illustrate the “Orange Line” facility and pertinent issues associated with it.

The Light Rail Now Project team emphasize that our criticisms are directed at questioning the contention that “BRT” is “just like rail, but cheaper…” – a claim which we regard as unsupportable and misleading. On the whole, LA’s “Orange Line” is an excellent higher-quality transit facility, and a vast improvement over the usual types of bus operations that must continuously contend with private motor vehicle traffic. As we indicate in our article cited above,

Certainly, there is no question that the Orange Line “BRT” is a major transit improvement in the corridor it serves (and, given applicable legal restrictions constraining LACMTA, a busway was effectively the agency’s only option for implementing a high-quality, rapid public transport service in the available former railway alignment).