Bus Rapid Transit has been a hot topic of conversation in the Princeton area for several years. But what would it actually look like?
In recent years, plans to run Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) alongside the Dinky train line have been proposed, and NJDOT also developed a wider regional BRT plan that would increase transit options along and around Route 1 (sadly that plan seems to have hit the skids.) Now, a Princeton University-Town committee is considering transit options for Alexander Street and University Place, and ‘some form of BRT’ is one of the options being considered.
But what would BRT look like? Local residents likely have no idea, because no BRT networks exist near Princeton- and almost no fully-realized BRT plans exist anywhere in North America. However, Montgomery County in Maryland is currently planning what would be the most ambitious BRT plan in the USA. Montgomery County is an affluent, heavily-suburbanized area, with many similarities to Central Jersey. To help educate local residents about how Bus Rapid Transit would work, the nonprofit group ‘Communities for Transit‘ prepared this video, which shows how BRT would work on local roads:
Check out the 3’47” video and you will see:
- At 0’30” – how transporting people in buses instead of cars frees up road space, enabling faster transportation and less hectic roads
- At 0’54” – how dedicating the middle two lanes of a road to BRT enables buses to glide past traffic just like a train on regular rails
- At 1’39” – how BRT buses avoid getting stuck at re traffic lights by signal prioritization
- At 1’50” – how reversible central medians allow BRT to work on narrower roadways
Crucially, BRT involves having a dedicated bus-only laneway. Anything beyond that is basically just a bus, and in fact the term ‘enhanced bus‘ is preferred for buses that run in mixed traffic but have elements of light-rail-transit (LRT) systems. In principle, BRT can be really good. A bus operating in its own dedicated lane is quicker than a streetcar operating in mixed traffic. But when you hear people talking about BRT, ask the question, ‘how will dedicated lanes be provided?’. Because without dedicating lanes, there is no ‘rapid’ in BRT- it’s just a regular bus.
What routes in the Princeton area do you think would be most suitable for BRT? Would you ride it? Have you ridden BRT elsewhere? Have your say in the comments below.