Designing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridors

This project focuses on the relationship between the design of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and the planning and design of the urban environments in which they exist, paying particular attention to the design of the street as a complex space that fulfills multiple functions beyond traffic and mobility.  BRT systems represent relatively advantageous transportation interventions in urban spaces: they can be relatively quickly and affordably implemented and, if done well, offer levels of service comparable to more time- and money-intensive projects (like Metros). Nonetheless, these advantages come with challenges: typically occupying pre-existing roadways, BRT systems can be polemic from a transport and urban design perspective; using large buses at high frequencies, they pose challenges like noise pollution and traffic safety that may require particular urban design innovations to enable transit-oriented development (TOD) and equitable urban revitalization more generally. Our working hypothesis is that BRT systems can be a successful driver of urban revitalization, however, subject to the proper, integrated design of the routes, public spaces, real estate projects, and the related policy packages necessary to induce good physical, social and environmental outcomes.

 We propose to test this hypothesis using an innovative pedagogical experiment: a semester-long urban design and planning workshop implemented simultaneously at MIT and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.  The advanced workshop will examine BRT corridors in two contexts, Santiago de Chile and Boston, and will involve approximately 15 graduate students at each university, taught by urban design and transportation planning faculty from PUC and MIT.

PARTNERS: Rosanna Forray, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Design and Urban Studies, Catholic University of Chile; Rocio Hidalgo, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Design and Urban Studies, Catholic University of Chile; Jan Wampler, Professor, Dept. of Architecture, MIT; Chris Zegras

SUPPORT: MIT-Chile - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Seed Fund