What is bus rapid transit (BRT)?

Bus rapid transit is an attractive, accessible, frequent, and reliable public transit service that minimizes user delay through the purposeful, incremental, flexible, and scalable development of station, intersection, and corridor level transit improvements with complementary street and highway investments.

Example BRT elements might include: dedicated lanes at intersections and/or along corridors, dedicated transitways, express lanes with dynamic pricing, priority measures at intersections and at freeway entrances/exits, higher frequencies, level boarding, enhanced rapid transit stops or stations, upgraded vehicle fleet, and more.  Specific BRT elements can be implemented on an individual corridor, segment, station, or stop basis.


Selected benefits of a bus rapid transit-based approach:

  • Flexible
  • Scalable and phase-able funding and implementation
  • Services more people over a broader area
  • Can be implemented quickly, and incrementally
  • Leverages existing and future road infrastructure
  • Avoids or defers operations/maintenance obligations of maintaining separate rail infrastructure
  • Cost-effective service delivery method
  • Efficiently leverages transit-oriented development

Areas that have implemented, are constructing, or developing plans for bus rapid transit

A number of cities and regions in the US — including Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Eugene, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, Montgomery Co., Md., Nashville, Chicago, Northern Virginia, etc. — have one or more significant bus rapid transit projects open or under construction or development.

Several cities and regions in Canada (e.g., Ottawa), the UK (e.g., Cambridgeshire, Luton/Dunstable) and Australia (Brisbane, Adelaide), also have bus rapid transit busways open to patrons.

Selected resources:


Comments from RTA leaders concerning a bus rapid transit-based approach for Wake County:

“As our region continues to grow, providing effective transit options for more people as quickly as possible is critical. Bus rapid transit has proven itself to be a sustainable, fiscally responsible and effective approach to quickly scaling a mass transit option that people like and use.”  
– Ed Paradise, 2014 RTA chair
“A bus rapid transit approach would leverage our existing road infrastructure and provide tremendous flexibility for future growth.  We have long supported accelerating enhanced transit in this market, and we are convinced a BRT-based approach is the best way to make that a reality sooner rather than later, particularly for Research Triangle Park, RDU International Airport, and other major regional destinations.” 
– Tom Looney, RTA regional transit chair
“Learning first-hand about existing and emerging bus rapid transit projects in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and suburban Maryland during recent RTA Leadership Briefings and Tours, and hearing of the experiences of other markets in the US and abroad that are implementing BRT, it is clear that a BRT-based approach can provide a more robust level of service across a broadly distributed system well suited for our community, while having the potential to catalyze economic activity throughout the County.”
– Clymer Cease, 2013 RTA chair
“BRT is emerging as a far more practical, flexible and economical alternative to light rail. I have been an unwavering supporter of transit but have always been concerned about the price tag for light rail and how it would be funded. It’s prudent to consider alternatives, which is why I enthusiastically joined a unanimous RTA steering committee vote to develop this alternative approach for Wake County.”
– Jim Captain, RTA immediate past chair


Selected regional media articles that mention bus rapid transit and/or the RTA position on transit in Wake County:

News&Observer articles Oct 14, 2013;  Oct 25, 2013;  Nov 4, 2013;  Nov 5, 2013;  Nov 10, 2013;  Nov 12, 2013; Feb 27, 2014Feb 28, 2014)

N&O editorials and letters etc. (Oct 14, 2013;  Oct 21, 2013; March 2, 2014March 4, 2014)

Independent Weekly articles and columns (Feb 20, 2013;  Oct 9, 2013;  Nov 13, 2013Jan 8, 2014)

Durham Herald-Sun articles (Sep 24, 2013)

Durham News articles and letters  (Dec 3, 2013Dec 13, 2013)

Chapel Hill News letters (Nov 11, 2013;  Nov 19, 2013)

WRAL TV summaries (Sep 3, 2013;  Nov 20, 2013 – link N/A)


Note:  RTA will be adding more information about bus rapid transit to this page over time.