Global Bus Rapid Transit database launches; 134 cities, 36 countries

A new global database hopes to put data about Bus Rapid Transit systems in cities around the world in a single place.

"We just launched the most comprehensive, public database of bus rapid transit!" screams a tweet from the folks at Embarq this morning.

Regular readers of SmartPlanet know how much we love cities, transportation and data. How could we resist?

The organization's new "Global BRT Data" database -- produced in conjunction with the BRT Centre of Excellence, naturally -- promises to let regular people (and transit wonks) compare BRT systems and bus corridors in 134 cities in 36 countries.

The database tracks 95 different indicators, from system operations to design to cost, with metrics such as number of passengers per day and commercial speed.

(Unfamiliar with Washington, D.C.-based Embarq? They're a World Resources Institute organization focused on sustainable transport and funded by Shell, Bloomberg, Caterpillar and FedEx.)

Bus Rapid Transit has been somewhat of a critical darling lately as budget-strapped cities seek ways to move more people for less money. One of the best bang-for-the-buck solutions is BRT, which requires the designation of a bus-only lane to keep city buses moving when normal traffic is not.

"As the number of BRT systems in the world increases, current, accurate and complete information about existing and planned systems becomes increasingly important but difficult to collect," Embarq says -- so it created the database to share knowledge worldwide, culling data from individual researchers, transit agencies, municipalities and NGOs.

Five fun facts we learned from the database:

  • One hundred and twenty-nine new corridors have been implemented worldwide since 2000. Thirty-seven of them have been since 2010.
  • Latin American systems move more than 50 percent of global BRT daily passenger trips.
  • Twenty-five Brazilian cities have 87 bus corridors, totaling more than 560 kilometers-- more than any other country.
  • Eighteen of Asia’s 24 BRT systems began operations since 2006.
  • Systems in 13 U.S. cities together carry almost 600,000 passenger trips each day.

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