Sharing information on bus transport systems is made easier thanks to new database

The International Energy Agency has helped create a database that will act as a one-stop-shop for researchers, planners, and policymakers to source information and data on Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) systems, such as the costs of such systems in different countries, which until now has not been possible.

This database, which will be launched in February 2012, is the first globally encompassing effort to map out BRT Systems around the world and will include a web portal, which is publicly available for anyone wishing to access information about BRT data. 

BRT systems – which were originally popularised in Curitiba, Brazil, and Bogotá, Colombia – are networks of low-cost surface metro systems, featuring large, fast buses that are highly efficient, popular with passengers, and much more advanced than regular bus systems. They are now being considered and actively adopted by hundreds of cities around the world.

These systems incorporate a number of technical innovations which aim to slash carbon dioxide emissions by enticing people away from their cars to a cost-effective and attractive alternative, and by making the bus routes more efficient, thereby saving energy.

Their numerous features include introducing dedicated lanes for buses in urban areas and creating bus stations with pre-pay systems that allow high volume, rapid boarding and alighting of buses, similar to metro systems.

For this project the IEA teamed up with Embarq, a division of the World Resources Institute, a think tank based in Washington D.C.

“The culmination of our joint efforts will result in the most comprehensive and robust database for a transit system which promises carbon reduction and increased mobility at a cost-effective rate,” said Tali Trigg, Energy Analyst, within the Energy Technology Policy Division at the IEA.

In addition to this new database, a new Standard of assessing the quality of BRT systems is also being developed.

The official Standard, which the IEA welcomes, is being developed by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP), a leading non governmental organisation working in the area of sustainable transport in the developing world. It allows projects that have been branded as BRT to be scored as gold, silver, or bronze. ITDP and a technical committee of international BRT experts will take on the roll of assessing cities to decide on their respective scores. The IEA has assisted in reviewing the technical details of this Standard.