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Understanding bus rapid transit route ridership drivers: An empirical study of Australian BRT systems


  • Currie, Graham
  • Delbosc, Alexa


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are an increasingly popular public transport option internationally. They provide rail-like quality for bus services for a fraction of the cost of fixed rail. Many claims of high and increasing ridership have resulted from BRT system development; however, it is unclear exactly which aspects of BRT system design drive this. This paper explores whether BRT design features, among other influences, significantly increase ridership above and beyond the impact of service levels. It does so using a series of regression models undertaken on 77 BRT and non-BRT bus routes in Australia which is known for its diversity in BRT route design. Explanatory variables used included service level, frequency, speed, stop spacing, share of segregated right of way, vehicle accessibility, employment and residential density, car ownership levels and BRT infrastructure quality. Five models explored the role of these variables. Two models found that service level dominates predictions of boardings per route km although they suffer from endogeneity. Further models control for this influence by modelling boardings per vehicle km. Overall results suggest that some BRT infrastructure treatments such as right of way have a significant impact on ridership but the influence of infrastructure is within the context of high service levels. The role of accessible vehicles has also been highlighted in this research, although more research is needed to clarify this influence. The paper concludes with a discussion of the various influences on ridership and recommendations for existing policy and future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Currie, Graham & Delbosc, Alexa, 2011. "Understanding bus rapid transit route ridership drivers: An empirical study of Australian BRT systems," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 755-764, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:18:y:2011:i:5:p:755-764

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Crampton, Graham, 2002. "International comparison of urban light rail systems: The role of integrated ticketing, pedestrianistion and population density," ERSA conference papers ersa02p167, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Ela Babalik-Sutcliffe, 2002. "Urban rail systems: Analysis of the factors behind success," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(4), pages 415-447, January.
    3. Kain, John F. & Liu, Zvi, 1999. "Secrets of success: assessing the large increases in transit ridership achieved by Houston and San Diego transit providers," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 601-624.
    4. FitzRoy, Felix & Smith, Ian, 1998. "Public transport demand in Freiburg: why did patronage double in a decade?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 163-173, June.
    5. David Hensher & Thomas Golob, 2008. "Bus rapid transit systems: a comparative assessment," Transportation, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 501-518, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ho, Chinh & Mulley, Corinne, 2014. "Metrobuses in Sydney: How high capacity and high frequency services are benefiting the Metropolitan fringe," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 339-348.
    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.
    3. Merkert, Rico & Mulley, Corinne & Hakim, Md Mahbubul, 2017. "Determinants of bus rapid transit (BRT) system revenue and effectiveness – A global benchmarking exercise," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 75-88.
    4. Tyndall, Justin, 2018. "Bus quality improvements and local commuter mode share," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 173-183.
    5. Wan, Dan & Kamga, Camille & Liu, Jun & Sugiura, Aaron & Beaton, Eric B., 2016. "Rider perception of a “light” Bus Rapid Transit system - The New York City Select Bus Service," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 41-55.
    6. Ingvardson, Jesper Bláfoss & Nielsen, Otto Anker, 2018. "How urban density, network topology and socio-economy influence public transport ridership: Empirical evidence from 48 European metropolitan areas," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 50-63.
    7. Currie, Graham & Delbosc, Alexa, 2014. "Assessing Bus Rapid Transit system performance in Australasia," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 142-151.
    8. Vergel-Tovar, C. Erik & Rodriguez, Daniel A., 2018. "The ridership performance of the built environment for BRT systems: Evidence from Latin America," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 172-184.


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