6Service Planning

Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context—a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.Eliel Saarinen, architect, 1873–1950

Once the corridor is selected as proposed in the previous chapter, BRT system design starts by characterizing the specific services that should operate inside any planned new BRT infrastructure. The final specification will be the operational schedule, including vehicle requirements.

A basic service plan should be developed before any infrastructure design is done, and certainly before it is finalized. The BRT services should serve as many trips as possible (from their origin at the household to their destination) at the highest speed with a minimum of transfers. The infrastructure should then be tailored to that service plan in a way that minimizes delay for as many customers as possible.

A common mistake in BRT planning is to design BRT infrastructure without having made even basic decisions about what sort of BRT services should use the infrastructure. While political or financial constraints may make it impossible to build the optimal physical design, infrastructure design should accommodate an optimal service plan to the greatest extent possible. Once key physical design decisions have been made, however, it is generally necessary to further modify the service plan given the limitations of the final physical design, in an iterative process.

The “service planning” part of this process is normally about deciding—under assumptions about infrastructure and on a route-by-route basis—which of the existing public transport services on or near the corridor will be included in the new BRT services as they exist, which to modify, which routes to add, which to leave out, and which if any to cancel.

This chapter provides guidance for making these basic BRT service decisions; the introductory section presents an approach to the iterative process and the reasoning behind it; the second section details how to describe the status quo of the existing public transport system properly, which becomes the basis of clearly defining customers’ service needs. The later sections, after introducing basic service planning concepts, provide specific tools for each decision step required to transform existing public transport services into a planned BRT corridor with BRT services.

The topics discussed in this chapter are:

  • Introduction;
  • Basic Data Collection;
  • Basic Service Planning Concepts;
  • Optimizing Vehicle Size and Fleet Size;
  • Determining Which Routes to Include Inside BRT Infrastructure;
  • Direct Services, Trunk-and-Feeder Services, or Hybrids;
  • Deciding on Stop Elimination and Express Services;
  • Creating New Routes and Combining Old Routes;
  • Pulling Services onto a BRT Trunk Corridor from a Parallel Corridor.