June 4, 2010

An Overview of Bus Rapid Transit in the US and the World


Dr.G. Scott Rutherford, Professor, Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Director, Director, Engineering Professional Programs, UW Professional and Continuing Education, Director, Valle Scholarship & Scandinavian Exch Program


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has emerged as a highly competitive alternative for high quality public transit in urban areas. Examples from South America, Australia and Europe have shown us that conventional wisdom about the capacity and cost effectiveness of quality BRT service are unfounded and BRT can provide a high level of transit service that is appropriate in most transportation corridors in the US. The seminar will review the elements of modern BRT systems and provide case studies of recent applications.

Biographical Sketch

Scott Rutherford is a Professor and former chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington  where he has been since 1981.  For the past 30 years at the UW he has taught and conducted research in the areas of transportation planning, travel demand forecasting, travel demand management  and the development of public transportation systems. In 2003 he co-authored the two volume Transit Cooperative Research Report #90 on the implementation of BRT. He has stayed active in the BRT  field by being a co-instructor for the National Transit Institute’s Bus Rapid Transit short course sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration which has been presented in twenty five US cities  since June of 2003.  He has incorporated BRT principles in his graduate courses, lectures he gives at professional conferences and guest lectures in other university courses. In 1989 he was one of  the principles in the development of U-Pass, the demand management program for the University of Washington in Seattle, which was highly effective and won many local and national prizes for its  innovation and collaboration with local transit agencies and governments. This U-Pass program reduced the SOV commute share from an already low 33% to 23% and transit share from 21% to 39%.  It remains one of the signature TDM programs in the country and incorporated many BRT principles. Prior to coming to the UW he worked in consulting for several firms out of Washington D.C. on transit  projects and travel forecasting issues.  In 1973 he was the first transportation faculty member hired at UC Davis in the CEE department and started an on-line program in cooperation with Caltrans  providing opportunities for master’s degrees focused on transportation planning. His PhD is in Transportation Systems from Northwestern University in 1974.