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April 2011 NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM Responsible Senior Program Officer: Gwen Chisholm-Smith Research Results Digest 352 COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF CONVERTING A LANE FOR BUS RAPID TRANSIT--PHASE II EVALUATION AND METHODOLOGY This digest summarizes the results of NCHRP Project 20-65, Task 22, Cost/ Benefit Analysis of Converting a Lane for Bus Rapid Transit-Phase II Evaluation and Methodology. The research was conducted by Jeffrey Ang-Olson, Principal, and Anjali Mahendra, Senior Associate, ICF International. SECTION 1 INTRODUCTION However, they cost more than BRT that operates in mixed traffic or reserved on- Overview street bus lanes. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has emerged Levels of service vary for the different as a viable option to enhance transporta- types of bus lanes on arterial streets. Bus tion capacity and provide increased levels lanes can help improve transit speed and reli- of mobility and accessibility. BRT systems ability on urban streets. BRT lanes are most vary from one application to another but all effective and reliable when the buses oper- provide a higher level of service than tradi- ate in conditions that are free from delays tional bus transportation. Service on BRT caused by other vehicles including autos and systems is generally faster than regular bus trucks. Separate bus lanes are also known to service because the buses make fewer stops have a positive effect on ridership because and may run as often as comparable rail they increase the visibility and identity of systems during peak travel times. BRT lines the BRT system. On an arterial street, bus can transport large numbers of people effi- lanes may operate in the same direction of ciently and cost-effectively and can be an general traffic (concurrent flow) or in the attractive way to get drivers out of their cars opposite direction (contraflow) along one- and onto transit. way streets. C O N T E N T S BRT systems are characterized by a While BRT in an exclusive ROW pro- Section 1 Introduction, 1 broad range of running ways which deter- vides the highest level of service, such Section 2 Overview of mine the speed and overall performance of systems are often challenging to develop Cost/Benefit Analysis, 3 the system. Table 1 shows the range of BRT in urban areas. Yet BRT operating in mixed Section 3 Categories of Benefits and Costs Considered, 5 facilities characterized by type of access flow lanes may not be able to achieve the control, ranging from grade-separated bus- improvement in travel time and reliability Section 4 Illustrative Analysis, 6 ways at one end of the spectrum to opera- necessary to attract significant new rider- Section 5 Sensitivity Analysis of Cost/Benefit Ratio, 12 tion in mixed traffic at the other. BRT lanes ship. One solution is to convert a mixed Section 6 Conclusions, 14 that have a high degree of right-of-way seg- flow arterial lane to exclusive BRT use. regation provide the fastest and most reli- Such a conversion has pros and cons. While References, 16 able BRT service and are most attractive the exclusive bus lane helps to ensure a high Appendix A: Review of Relevant Cost/Benefit Analysis Models, 17 for travelers. In addition to user benefits, transit level of service, the loss of capacity Appendix B: Analysis they are likely to induce land and economic for mixed flow traffic could cause a sig- Spreadsheet, 25 development benefits (Kittelson 2007). nificant increase in vehicle delay. This
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Table 1 Types of BRT facilities with level of access control. Facility Type Access Control Examples Busways Bus tunnel Uninterrupted flow--full control of access Boston, Seattle Grade-separated busway Uninterrupted flow--full control of access Ottawa, Pittsburgh At-grade busway Partial control of access Miami, Hartford, Los Angeles Freeway lanes Concurrent flow lanes Uninterrupted flow--full control of access Ottawa, Phoenix Contraflow lanes Uninterrupted flow--full control of access New Jersey approach to Lincoln Tunnel Bus-only or bus Uninterrupted flow--full control of access Los Angeles priority ramps Arterial streets Arterial median busway Physically separated lanes w/in street ROW Curitiba, Vancouver, Cleveland Curb bus lane Exclusive/semi-exclusive lanes Rouen (France), Vancouver, Las Vegas Dual curb lanes Exclusive/semi-exclusive lanes New York City (Madison Ave) Interior bus lanes Exclusive/semi-exclusive lanes Boston Median bus lane Exclusive/semi-exclusive lanes Cleveland Contraflow bus lane Exclusive/semi-exclusive lanes Los Angeles, Pittsburgh Bus-only street Exclusive/semi-exclusive lanes Portland (OR) Queue jump/bypass lane Mixed traffic operations Leeds (UK), Vancouver Transit signal priority Mixed traffic operations Los Angeles, Oakland Source: TCRP Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner's Guide, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, 2007 study explores these trade-offs by performing a team found that most existing models do not allow cost/benefit analysis for a hypothetical lane con- consideration of both transit and auto modes at the version BRT project. same time in a single analysis. Therefore, analysts often need to apply alternative or off-model tech- niques to evaluate this special case. Purpose of Project and Intended Audience This project required demonstration of a method- This research builds off NCHRP Project 20-65, ology that captures all the benefits (and disbenefits) Task 21, which focused on reviewing existing BRT across transit riders and auto drivers. The intended projects and the methods used to evaluate their costs audience for this report includes transportation plan- and benefits. NCHRP Project 20-65, Task 22 is ners and modelers, consultants, professionals involved intended to provide transportation agencies with a in economic, social, and environmental impact analy- methodology and a guide for evaluating the potential sis, and others involved in evaluating projects, as benefits of converting a mixed-flow lane to exclusive well as decision makers who use the results of the BRT use. analysis. The report is intended for those who have The benefits and costs of converting a lane to a some knowledge of cost/benefit analysis and would BRT lane will depend heavily on how such a project like more information about how to apply it when affects traffic speed, delay, and vehicle miles trav- converting a lane for the use of transit at a corridor, eled, both in the mixed flow lanes and the BRT lane. local, or regional scale. The benefits will also depend on the extent to which improved transit service results in mode shift to tran- How to Use the Illustrative Analysis sit. Thus, a critical section of the report is the descrip- tion of the analytical methods and assumptions used The illustrative analysis described in this report for these calculations. is intended as a reference for analysts considering From a review of 11 models that can be used for the option of converting a mixed flow lane to a BRT cost/benefit analysis (see Appendix A), the research lane. The hypothetical example involves an 8-mile 2