Commuters confused about BRT: survey

A new survey shows commuters complain about crowded trains but don’t understand Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

September 25, 2012

Commuters are confused about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), according to the Sydney Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies' (ITLS) latest Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS).

The quarterly TOPS survey shows only 8 percent of survey participants correctly describe BRT, a relatively new system of public transport introduced in the early 1970s, as buses operating on dedicated corridors.

"This lack of awareness of BRT is very concerning, with the consequence that Australians tend to see only railways as being capable of providing dedicated corridor services," ITLS Director Professor Hensher says.

"We know that railways are much more expensive to provide than BRT for the equivalent levels of service."

Meanwhile, Hensher says, nearly half of the nation’s train travellers complain that the level of crowding on local train services at peak times is intolerable.

According to the survey, 40 percent of train users say that they are forced to stand between 60 percent and 100 percent of their journey time during peak hours.

"Crowding on metropolitan rail networks has become a greater concern for many rail and non-rail users than other factors such as travel time and fares" he says.

Hensher says Victorians experience the worst crowding on local train services with 53 percent of users describing the crush as intolerable. This is compared with 32 percent for Queensland and 38 percent for New South Wales.

"There are clearly big differences between the capital cities," Hensher says.

"This sends a strong signal about the need to include level of crowding when considering new investment, something that is often missing in formal transport project appraisal."

Hensher says both for the short-term and longer-term, confidence in transport improvements in Australia is now at its lowest point since the TOPS project commenced in March 2010.

The September 2012 TOPS survey revealed that more than 50 percent of Australians regard improvement in public transport as the highest priority for transport. This finding is in line with the previous TOPS surveys.

The first national survey to measure opinions on transport on a regular basis, TOPS is a representative indicator of Australians’ ongoing confidence in transport both locally and nationally.

The ITLS in the University of Sydney Business School provides education and conducts research in transport, logistics and supply chain management.

The September 2012 quarterly report is available at

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