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Bus Rapid Transit versus Heavy Rail in suburban Sydney – Comparing successive iterations of a proposed heavy rail line project to the pre-existing BRT network


  • Clifton, Geoffrey T.
  • Mulley, Corinne
  • Hensher, David A.


Both research and international experience have shown that, whilst BRT services allow suburban areas to be provided with a reasonable level of transit access at an acceptable cost, Heavy Rail offers higher perceived benefits to communities even where BRT performs the same or better in terms of travel time, fares or subsidy levels. There is strong support for the extension of Heavy Rail into the North West Area of Sydney, despite an extensive network of frequent and fast bus services operating along three busways and providing single seat service between low density residential areas, regional centres and the CBD of Sydney. This has led to a number of proposals since 1998 for the North West Rail Link that is now under construction and will replace most direct bus routes with rail feeder services. Previous research demonstrated that the project would have ambiguous benefits for existing public transport users in terms of frequency, travel time and fares. This paper examines the various iterations of the project to explore whether the succession of proposals has led to a project that will provide a better or worse level of service, in terms of travel time, than either the initial proposals or the existing network of services.

Suggested Citation

  • Clifton, Geoffrey T. & Mulley, Corinne & Hensher, David A., 2014. "Bus Rapid Transit versus Heavy Rail in suburban Sydney – Comparing successive iterations of a proposed heavy rail line project to the pre-existing BRT network," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 126-141.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:48:y:2014:i:c:p:126-141
    DOI: 10.1016/j.retrec.2014.09.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hine, J. & Scott, J., 2000. "Seamless, accessible travel: users' views of the public transport journey and interchange," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 217-226, July.
    2. Givoni, Moshe & Rietveld, Piet, 2007. "The access journey to the railway station and its role in passengers' satisfaction with rail travel," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 357-365, September.
    3. Paulley, Neil & Balcombe, Richard & Mackett, Roger & Titheridge, Helena & Preston, John & Wardman, Mark & Shires, Jeremy & White, Peter, 2006. "The demand for public transport: The effects of fares, quality of service, income and car ownership," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 295-306, July.
    4. David Hensher & Corinne Mulley & Norhayati Yahya, 2010. "Passenger experience with quality-enhanced bus service: the tyne and wear ‘superoute’ services," Transportation, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 239-256, March.
    5. Vincent Meertens, 2012. "Featured graphic: Travel time maps of urban areas in the Netherlands," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(11), pages 2533-2534, November.
    6. Hensher, David A. & Rose, John M., 2007. "Development of commuter and non-commuter mode choice models for the assessment of new public transport infrastructure projects: A case study," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 428-443, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jotrge:v:69:y:2018:i:c:p:58-72 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Clifton, Geoffrey T. & Mulley, Corinne, 2016. "A historical overview of enhanced bus services in Australian cities: What has been tried, what has worked?," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 11-25.

    More about this item


    Bus Rapid Transit; Mass transit; Rail projects; Travel time; Transportation modes;

    JEL classification:

    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning


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