BRT Standard

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Document defining the 2016 BRT Standard

The BRT Standard is an evaluation tool for bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors around the world, based on international best practices.[1] The Standard establishes a common definition for BRT and identifies BRT best practices, as well as functioning as a scoring system to allow BRT corridors to be evaluated and recognized for their superior design and management aspects.[2]

The Standard was conceived by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) in 2012 to ensure that BRT corridors worldwide meet a minimum quality standard and deliver consistent passenger, economic, and environmental benefits. This is of particular relevance in countries where "BRT"s qualify for special funding from national or provincial governments. In addition to serving as an overview of BRT design elements, the Standard can be used to evaluate existing BRT corridors and certify them as a Basic, Bronze, Silver, or Gold rated corridors. Corridors which fail to meet minimum standards for Basic ratings are not considered to be BRT.[3]: 34  The latest edition of the Standard was published in 2016.[4]

History and purpose[edit]

First released in 2012, the BRT Standard was created “to establish a common definition of bus rapid transit (BRT) and ensure that BRT corridors more uniformly deliver world-class passenger experiences, significant economic benefits, and positive environmental impact”. The Standard was developed in response to a lack of consensus among planners and engineers as to what constitutes a true BRT corridor. Without a clear definition, the term BRT was used for corridors that provided only minor improvements in bus service and lacked the elements of BRT that make it competitive with light rail or metro alternatives. This caused a backlash against the BRT "brand", and confusion as to its benefits.[5]

TransJakarta bus on the dedicated bus lane, an exclusive right-of-way separated from heavy traffic

The 2014 edition made some improvements to the methodology, including adjustments to the corridor definition, infrequent-service penalties, and increased emphasis on basics. In order to allow BRT corridors in downtown areas to qualify as BRT, the definition of a BRT corridor has been reduced to a minimum of 3 km (1.9 mi) in length.[6] The peak and off-peak frequency design metrics have been removed, and penalties for low peak and off-peak frequencies have been added. An additional point was added to each of the BRT basic elements, to put greater emphasis on the basic elements of a BRT corridor.[7]

The 2016 edition proposed six major changes, including greater focus on safety and system operations, separation of the design score and the full score (i.e. including both design and operations), improved dedicated right-of-way definition, new types of busway alignments, and partial points for onboard fare validation. [8]

Technical committee and endorsers[edit]

The BRT Standard was developed and continues to be updated by a technical committee, with strategic direction and guidance from several organizations.[9] The current (2020) Technical Committee consist of: Aileen Carrigan (Bespoke Transit Solutions)*, Aimee Gauthier (ITDP), Angelica Castro (Transconsult)*, CarlosFelipe Pardo (NUMO), Dario Hidalgo, Gerhard Menckhoff (retired, World Bank)*, Leonardo Canon Rubiano (World Bank)*, Lloyd Wright (Asian Development Bank)*, Manfred Breithaupt (GIZ), Paulo Sérgio Custodio, Pedro Szasz, Ricardo Giesen (BRT CoE), Wagner Colombini Martins (Logit Consultoria), Walter Hook (BRT Planning International), Xiaomei Duan (Far East Mobility)*. The Standard further incorporates advice from, and has the institutional endorsement of ITDP, Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), ClimateWorks Foundation, UN Habitat, Barr Foundation, UNEP, ICCT, World Resource Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Unless indicated by an asterisk (*), each committee member also represents his or her institution.

Definition of BRT[edit]

The BRT Standard creates a concrete “minimum standard”, identifying several critical design elements that must be present for a corridor to qualify as BRT. For each element, a best practice is identified, along with benchmarks for partial achievement of the feature.[10]

Basic characteristics[edit]

There are five essential characteristics of a BRT corridor.[11]

  • Example of a dedicated lane through busway fencing in Indore, India
    Dedicated right-of-way — An exclusive right-of-way is vital to ensuring that buses can move quickly and unimpeded by congestion. Enforcement of the dedicated lane can be handled in different ways, such as delineators, bollards, or colorized pavement. Non-physical barriers can additionally be used for enforcement, such as onboard cameras, regular policing at points of frequent encroachment, and high fines for corridor violation by non-authorized vehicles.
  • Busway alignment — Alignment of the bus lane so that conflicts with other traffic can be minimized. Options include exclusive bus-only corridor, median (central reservation) aligned, busway that runs adjacent to an "edge condition" like a waterfront or a park with few intersections, and curb aligned (but curb aligned only where there are infrequent intersections to cause traffic conflicts and delays).
Example of a dedicated lane through busway separation in Bangkok, Thailand
Example of off-board fare collection through a barrier controlled method
  • Off-board fare collection — Collecting fares before boarding or validating fares on-board, through a “barrier controlled” or “proof-of-payment” method, is one of the most important factors in reducing station dwell time as it permits boarding and alighting through all bus doors rather than obliging boarding passengers to enter through a single-door (normally next to the driver). This reduces total travel time, thus improving the customer experience and facilitating faster bus turn-around, i.e. fewer buses are needed to serve a given level of passenger demand.
  • Intersection treatments — There are several ways to minimize bus delays at intersections, all of which are aimed at increasing the green signal time for the bus lane. Forbidding turns across the bus lane and minimizing the number of traffic-signal phases where possible are the most important. Traffic-signal priority when activated by an approaching BRT vehicle is useful in lower-frequency corridors, or to call for an intermediate (extra) BRT phase at locations with multi-phase signal control.
  • Platform-level boarding — Having the bus-station platform level with the bus floor is one of the most important ways of reducing boarding and alighting times per passenger. The reduction or elimination of the vehicle-to-platform gap is also key to customer safety and comfort. A range of measures can be used to achieve platform gaps of less than 5 cm (2.0 in), including guided busways at stations, alignment markers, Kassel curbs, and boarding bridges.


Points are awarded for those elements of BRT corridors that most significantly improve operational performance and quality of service. The points act as proxies for a higher quality of customer service (speed, comfort, capacity, etc.). For each element identified in the BRT Standard, a maximum point value is assigned. A given BRT corridor is then rated based on how closely it achieves the best practice of this element.[10]

The BRT Standard created a “minimum definition” for BRT corridors. To qualify as BRT, a corridor must:

  • be at least 3 km in length (1.9 miles);
  • score at least 4 points for busway alignment;
  • score at least 4 points for dedicated right-of-way; and
  • score at or above a 20/38 in the BRT basic elements.

The BRT Basics, as outlined in Section 3 above, have the following maximum scores: BRT Basics [38 points]

  • Dedicated right-of-way (8 points)
  • Busway alignment (8 points)
  • Off-board fare collection (8 points)
  • Intersection treatments (7 points)
  • Platform-level boarding (7 points)

In addition to the BRT Basics, five additional categories of BRT design and planning elements are scored. These categories and elements have the following maximum scores: Service Planning — [19 points total]

  • Multiple routes (4 points)
  • Diverse services - express, limited-stop, and local (3 points)
  • Control Center (3 points)
  • Located in Top Ten Corridors (2 points)
  • Optimized demand profile (3 points)
  • Multi-corridor network connections (2 points)
  • Hours of operation including late-night and weekends (2 points)

Infrastructure — [13 points total]

Station Design and Station-Bus Interface — [10 points total]

  • Safe and comfortable stations (3 points)
  • Number of doors on bus (3 points)
  • Docking bays and sub-stops at high demand stations to improve bus flow (1 point)
  • Reasonable distances between stations (2 points)
  • Sliding doors in BRT stations (1 point)

Communications — [5 points total]

  • Branding (3 points)
  • Passenger information (2 points)

Integration and Access — [15 points total]

Once qualified as a Basic BRT, a corridor can earn up to 100 points. After the score for the (1) BRT Basics, (2) Service Planning, (3) Infrastructure, (4) Stations, (5) Communications, and (6) Integration and Access is complete, points can be subtracted from the total score to account for operational weaknesses. These deductions prevent awarding high quality recognition to BRT corridors that have significant operational, management, or performance problems. The operations deduction elements (up to 63 points total) include the following maximum deduction:

  • Low commercial speeds (10 points)
  • Peak passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) below 1,000 (5 points)
  • Lack of enforcement of the right-of-way (5 points)
  • Significant gap between bus floor and station platform (5 points)
  • Overcrowding (5 points)
  • Poorly maintained infrastructure, including busway, buses, stations, and technology systems (14 points)
  • Low peak frequency (3 points)
  • Low off-peak frequency (2 points)
  • Permitting unsafe bicycle use (2 points)
  • Lack of traffic safety data (2 points)
  • Buses running parallel to the BRT corridor (6 points)
  • Bus bunching (4 points)

To recognize superior performance, the Standard awards corridors scoring between 85-100 a Gold rating, between 70-84.9 a Silver, and 55-69.9 a Bronze. Many bus corridors with some BRT-like aspects fail to qualify as true BRT. Corridors which fail to meet minimum BRT standards are classified by the ITDP as "Not BRT".[3]:34

Scored BRT corridors[edit]

The following cities have had their BRT corridors evaluated and scored using the BRT Corridor Standard. Each corridor is ranked at either Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic level of quality.[12]

In 2011, two US corridors evaluated, the Silver Line in Boston and Chelsea, Massachusetts, and the Select Bus Service (SBS) in New York City, were rated "Not BRT".[3]: 34 [13]

In 2014, only six US corridors were ranked as true BRT corridors, two Silver and four Bronze level.[14][8]

In 2016, no new systems reached Gold standard. Rio de Janeiro and Uberaba in Brazil; Cartagena and Bucaramanga in Colombia; and Hartford, Connecticut in the United States each had one Silver status corridor;[8] also the Delhi Bus Rapid Transit System in India (a Basic BRT) was dismantled.

In 2017, Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States, received Gold status for its design, the first such corridor in the United States. Approximately six months after the system becomes operational, the ranking is scheduled to be reassessed.[15][16][17]

In 2019, MAX in Fort Collins, Colorado and the South Dade Transitway in Miami-Dade County, Florida, both in the United States, although not formally assessed, received preliminary rankings of at least Basic BRT.[18]

ITDP Bus Rapid Transit Rankings, continually updated on the ITDP website:[19]

City Country BRT System: Corridor(s) BRT Standard Version Rating
Belo Horizonte Brazil MOVE: Cristiano Machado[20] 2014 Gold
Curitiba Brazil Rede Integrada de Transporte: Linha Verde 2013 Gold
Rio de Janeiro Brazil TransCarioca 2014 Gold
Guangzhou China GBRT: Zhongshan Avenue 2013 Gold
Bogotá Colombia TransMilenio: Américas, Calle 80, Calle 26,
NQS (Norte-Quito-Sur), Suba, El Dorado
2013 Gold
Medellin Colombia Metroplús 2013 Gold
Guatemala City Guatemala Transmetro: Eje Sur 2014 Gold
Guadalajara Mexico Macrobús 2013 Gold
Lima Peru Metropolitano 2013 Gold
Buenos Aires Argentina Metrobus: 9 de Julio 2014 Silver
Brisbane, Queensland Australia Brisbane BRT: South East Busway 2013 Silver
Belo Horizonte Brazil MOVE: Antônio Carlos[21] 2014 Silver
Curitiba Brazil Rede Integrada de Transporte: Corridor North, Corridor South,
Corridor East, Corridor West, and Corridor Boqueirão
2013 Silver
Rio de Janeiro Brazil BRT Rio: Transolímpica 2016 Silver
Rio de Janeiro Brazil BRT Rio: TransOeste 2014 Silver
Sao Paulo Brazil Expresso Tiradentes 2013 Silver
Uberlândia Brazil Estrutural Sudeste 2014 Silver
Uberaba Brazil Vetor Leste-Oeste 2016 Silver
Chengdu China Chengdu BRT: Erhuan Lu 2014 Silver
Lanzhou China LBRT: Anning Road 2013 Silver
Xiamen China Xiamen BRT 2014 Silver
Barranquilla Colombia TransMetro 2013 Silver
Bogotá Colombia TransMilenio: Autonorte and Caracas 2013 Silver
Cali Colombia MIO 2013 Silver
Cartagena Colombia Transcaribe: Portal - Bodeguita 2016 Silver
Pereira Colombia Megabús 2013 Silver
Quito Ecuador MetrobusQ: Ecovia, Trolebus, and Central-Norte 2013 Silver
Île-de-France France Trans-Val-de-Marne (TVM): Antony-La Croix de Berny - Saint-Maur-Créteil 2014 Silver
Rouen France TEOR: Line 1, Line 2, and Line 3 2013 Silver
Guatemala City Guatemala Transmetro: Eje Central 2014 Silver
Ahmedabad India Janmarg: Narol-Naroda 2013 Silver
Jakarta Indonesia TransJakarta: Corridor 1 (Blok M to Kota Station) 2014 Silver
Mexico City Mexico Metrobús: Line 1, Line 2, and Line 3 2013 Silver
Mexico City Mexico Metrobús: Line 5 2014 Silver
Mexico (state) Mexico Mexibús: Line 3 2013 Silver
Monterrey Mexico Ecovía: Lincoln-Ruiz Cortines 2014 Silver
Johannesburg South Africa Rea Vaya Phase 1A 2013 Silver
Istanbul Turkey Metrobüs: Avcılar - Söğütlüçeşme 2014 Silver
Cleveland, Ohio United States Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority: HealthLine 2013 Silver
Hartford, Connecticut United States Connecticut Transit: CTfastrak[8] 2016 Silver
Caracas Venezuela BusCaracas: Line 7 2014 Silver
Buenos Aires Argentina Metrobus: Juan B Justo 2013 Bronze
Brasília Brazil Expresso DF Sul 2014 Bronze
Goiânia Brazil Eixo Anhanguera 2014 Bronze
Recife Brazil Via Livre: Via Livre Norte/Sul 2016 Bronze
São Paulo (state) Brazil Corredor Metropolitano, São Mateus – Jabaquara (ABD) 2013 Bronze
Ottawa, Ontario Canada OC Transpo: Transitway 2013 Bronze
Santiago Chile Transantiago: Avenida Grecia; Avenidas Las Industrias - Seirra Bella/Carmen; Pedro Aguirre Cerda - Exposicion Buscunan Guerrero; Santa Rose Norte; Santa Rosa Sur 2014 Bronze
Beijing China Beijing BRT: Line 1: Nanzhongzhou, Line 2: Chaoyang Road,
Line 3: Anding Road, Line 4: Rucheng Road – Fushi Road
2013 Bronze
Changzhou China Changzhou BRT: Tongijang Road – Laodong Road – Lanling Road –
Wuji Road – Mingxin Road (North-South),
Huaide Road – Yanling Road – Dongfangxi Road (East-West)
2013 Bronze
Jinan China Jinan BRT: Xierhuan 2014 Bronze
Jinan China Jinan BRT: Lishan Lu, Beiyuan Daije, Erhuandonglu, Gongyebeilu-Aotizonglu 2013 Bronze
Lianyungang China Lianyungang BRT: Xingfu - Hailian - Xiangangcheng - Gangcheng 2014 Bronze
Urumuqi China Urumuqi BRT: Corridor 1 (Beijinglu - Xiebelu - Yanzijianglu) 2014 Bronze
Yancheng China Yancheng BRT: Kaifang Dadao - Jiefang Nanlu 2014 Bronze
Yinchuan China Yinchuan BRT: Huanghe East - Nanxun - Qinghe 2014 Bronze
Zaozhuang China Zaozhuang BRT: B1 2014 Bronze
Zhengzhou China Zhengzhou BRT 2014 Bronze
Zhongshan China Zhongshan BRT: Zhongshan 2nd-5th Rd - Jiangling Rd 2014 Bronze
Guayaquil Ecuador Guayaquil BRT: Guasmo-Río Daule and Bastión-Centro 2013 Bronze
Quito Ecuador Metrobus: Corredor sur occidential, Corredor sur oriental 2014 Bronze
Nantes France Semitan: Nantes Busway Line 4 2013 Bronze
Ahmedabad India Janmarg: RTO - Maninagar 2013 Bronze
Ahmedabad India Janmarg: Sola - AEC 2014 Bronze
Indore India iBus Trunk Corridor 2016 Bronze
Surat India Sitilink: Udhna - Sachin GIDC 2014 Bronze
Mexico City Mexico Metrobús: Line 4 2013 Bronze
Puebla Mexico RUTA: Linea 1 Chachapa - Tlazvalacingo 2014 Bronze
Islamabad-Pindi Pakistan Metro Bus: Twin Cities 2014 Bronze
Cape Town South Africa MyCiTi: Phase 1A 2013 Bronze
Bangkok Thailand Bangkok BRT: Sathorn - Rama III 2014 Bronze
Cambridge United Kingdom The Busway: Route A 2013 Bronze
Eugene, Oregon United States Lane Transit District: Emerald Express Green Line 2013 Bronze
Los Angeles, California United States Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Orange Line 2013 Bronze
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States Port Authority of Allegheny County: Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway 2013 Bronze
Richmond, Virginia United States GRTC: Pulse 2016 Bronze
San Bernardino, California United States sbX: E Street 2014 Bronze
Recife Brazil Via Livre: Via Livre Leste/Oeste 2016 Basic
São Paulo (state) Brazil Corredor Metropolitano, Diadema – Morumbi (ABD) 2014 Basic
Changde China Changde BRT 2014 Basic
Dalian China Dalian BRT 2014 Basic
Hefei China Hefei BRT 2014 Basic
Zaozhuang China Zaozhuang BRT: B3 2014 Basic
Zaozhuang China Zaozhuang BRT: B5 2014 Basic
Pune/Pimpri-Chinchwad India Rainbow Bus Rapid Transit System 2016 Basic
Lahore Pakistan Lahore Metrobus 2014 Basic
Seoul South Korea Seven BRT lines 2014 Basic
Las Vegas, Nevada United States RTC Transit: Strip and Downtown Express (SDX) 2013 Basic
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States Port Authority of Allegheny County: South Busway 2013 Basic
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States Port Authority of Allegheny County: West Busway 2013 Basic

Note: If a transit system is named, but no specific corridors or lines, the entire system is implemented in BRT technology.


The BRT Standard has been criticized by some because the potential unintended consequences it may have on transport policies in some cities, which may include the Standard leading to inappropriate infrastructure in places that do not require the level of infrastructure and service that BRT offers. Additionally, the BRT Standard has been noted as a one-size-fits-all tool that is not context sensitive. This may be especially noted with BRT Standard elements such as passing lanes, sub-stations requirements, and excessive use of express services which can unduly raise the time that passengers have to wait for their bus.  Also, overambitious standards may result in higher construction costs and, in particular, greater land acquisition (and resettlement) needs. In one recent case, the technical design team insisted on aiming for Gold classification, resulting in high cost and land acquisition needs which could have been avoided with a lower classification; as a consequence the project was cancelled by political decision-makers.

In response to that criticism, those in favor of the Standard point out that the overwhelming majority of the Standard elements work well and would also benefit lower demand systems. Above all, BRT designers should take advantage of the flexibility inherent in bus systems and consider lower-standard busway sections to avoid physical or political constraints, especially where such sections can later be upgraded to address future demand increases.

There are many situations where lower-grade BRT or non-BRT bus schemes are the appropriate solution to upgrade public transit. The Standard should not be a reason to forgo such improvements. However, in many cases, the Standard provides a scoring tool that can motivate cities to develop high quality mass transit corridors where possible under the city's prevailing financial and spatial conditions.[8]

See also[edit]

  • Bus rapid transit creep — alleged application of the term "BRT" to bus systems that fall short of its design and performance standards


  1. ^ Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) (2016). "About the Standard: What's New in 2016?". ITDP. Retrieved 2019-04-11. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ Goldmark, Alex. BRT Systems Getting an International Rating Standard WNYC 01 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Recapturing Global Leadership in Bus Rapid Transit: A Survey of Select U.S. Cities". ITDP: Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Retrieved 2014-05-23.
  4. ^ Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) (2016). "About the Standard: What's New in 2016?". ITDP. Retrieved 2019-04-11. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  5. ^ Greenfield, John (2013-03-12). "Taking the Guesswork Out of Rating BRT: An Interview With Walter Hook | Streetsblog Chicago". Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  6. ^ "The BRT Standard: 2014 Edition". Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  7. ^ "The BRT Standard: 2014 Edition". Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e "The BRT Standard". Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Institute for Transportation and Development Policy: The BRT Standard 2014 Committee". ITDP. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  10. ^ a b "Institute for Transportation and Development Policy: Scorecard". ITDP. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  11. ^ "Institute for Transportation and Development Policy: BRT Basics". ITDP. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  12. ^ "2013 Corridor Rankings". Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
  13. ^ Weinstock, Annie; Hook, Walter; Replogle, Michael; Cruz, Ramon (May 2011). "Recapturing Global Leadership in Bus Rapid Transit" (PDF). Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. pp. 45–46. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 25, 2017. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  14. ^ Malouff, Dan (2013-01-17). "The US has only 5 true BRT corridors, and none are "gold"". Greater Greater Washington. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  15. ^ "Albuquerque, NM Opens First USA Gold Standard BRT on Historic Route 66". Transport Matters. Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. November 27, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "ART System Receives Rare Gold Standard from ITDP". November 27, 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  17. ^ "FAQ- Getting to BRT: An Implementation Guide for U.S. Cities". Transport Matters. Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. October 4, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Carrigan, Aileen; Wallerce, Julia; Kodransky, Michael (September 2019). "Getting to BRT: An Implementation Guide for U.S. Cities" (PDF). Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Retrieved April 27, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "BRT Rankings".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ "Avaliação BRT MOVE Cristiano Machado". Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  21. ^ "Relatório de Recomendações do Sistema MOVE – Antônio Carlos". Retrieved 2017-07-08.

External links[edit]