Bus Rapid Transit Systems as a Solution for Sustainability

 Courtesy of Scott Dalton for The New York Times

Courtesy of Scott Dalton for The New York Times

The New York Times reported on the success of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Bogotá, Columbia called the TransMilenio. The Bogotá BRT has relieved the city from an overburdened transportation system composed mostly of individually-owned vehicles that shared the roads with ordinary buses. As noted in the Times article, the new system has become an alternative mode of transportation rather than an addition the the old system. The BRT experience is more akin to riding a subway train than a bus, which has aided its success–a feat difficult for other cities to achieve. Part of the difficulty of implementing a bus system that successfully replaces other modes of transpiration is effectively protecting dedicated bus lanes from other traffic. Despite difficulties, examples of other cities that have plans to implement BRTs include: Mexico City, Cape Town, Jakarta, Indonesia and Ahmedabad, India.

Bus rapid transit systems may solve transportation challenges in poor cities while contributing to global efforts to lessen climate change. BRTs are much less expensive to build and maintain than are metros. Low costs make it possible for poor cities to implement cleaner and more efficient transportation systems, where constrained budgets preclude the construction of metros. BRTs, like metros found in cities of developed countries, reduce green house gas emissions from cars, trucks, and buses. “TransMilenio has allowed the city to remove 7,000 small private buses from its roads, reducing the use of bus fuel — and associated emissions — by more than 59 percent since it opened its first line in 2001, according to city officials.” Due to its success, “… the TransMilenio last year became the only large transportation project approved by the United Nations to generate and sell carbon credits …”, allowing Bogotá to generate an estimated $300 million over the past year from developed countries that need the credit. Decreasing transportation emissions will become increasingly important to check as they are expected to increase by 50 percent by the year 2030.

The Times article noted that the TransMilenio can be seen as a model for how international programs to limit man-made contributions to climate change can and should function. By designing an international treaty that encourages the implementation of cleaner and more efficient transportation systems supported by the same program that serves to check global emissions (Kyoto Protocol), development is promoted in a manner more sensitive to the local needs of poor cities and to the common goal to offset the risk of climate change.

Read the full Times article here


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Comments (1)


  1. I think that this sort of system should be implemented a lot more than it is. The decrease in traffic, parking issues and pollution is just astounding.

    If the whole corporate world rode busses to and from work, I bet we’d see a mind blowing difference in all three of the above listed issues.

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