I wrote a post a while back trying to give some support to BRT as a form of mass transit. Overhead wire recently posted a piece about former HOV bus lanes being turned into toll lanes for cars and it got my mind spinning.
I'd classify myself as pro BRT and pro LRT, I think each has its place in transit and neither one should be totally discounted. However, his post, in my mind, uncovers a potential flaw with BRT that is worth noting. It's disconcerting enough that these once dedicated bus rights-of-way were transformed into further personal automobile capacity.
What is even more disconcerting is how easy it could be done, and their in lies the flaw. It's a heck of a lot easier to convert a busway or dedicated bus lane to a toll lane than it is a LRT right of way. How likely or unlikely that a conversion would occur can be debated, but from a sheer cost standpoint, it's more likely to happen with a BRT right of way vs. an LRT right of way. Additionally, while conversion is a strategic mistake, I could see people who choose cars for transportation lining up to utilize a converted busway.
I think we're safe here in Pittsburgh, the amount of ridership (especially on the East Busway) ensures our busway system's continued existence, but the potential for conversion is definitely a point that should be discussed when it comes down to the question of "BRT or LRT".
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