Light Rail, Guided Buses, Busways and Bus Lanes Comparisons

May 2000
Logistics & Transport Focus;May2000, Vol. 2 Issue 4, p44
Trade Publication
There has been an argument, ever since the publication of the white paper of the government of Great Britain on integrated transport in 1998, about whether Great Britain should follow the continental preference for light rail systems or focus more on improved bus systems. A new report, expected to have been available at the end of April 2000, sets out to provide the evidence to make that choice. It analyzes the relative merits of light rail, guided buses, busways and bus lanes in terms of their of their financial, operational and demand factors. This article is the summary of the full report. In terms of the corridor widths needed, light rail requires least space and busways the most. When studying passenger capacity, light rail can normally transport more passengers than standard buses. Speed is mainly influenced not by inherent running space in free-flow conditions, but also by stop density, and existing light rail corridors usually have many more stops than busways. Noise and pollution considerations favor light rail, but innovations in diesel technology will, in the future, provide zero emission buses. A number of complementary measures are easier to implement with light rail than with buses. There appears to be a tendency that European cities which operate significant light rail networks have gained more public transport passengers over the period 1986-1996 than cities which rely only on buses.


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