Bus Rapid Transit [BRT]: Meaning, Significance, History

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Dec 14, 2022, 12:14

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a transit system that permits fast and cost-effective movement of regular bus services. It is designed to incorporate dedicated bus lanes and stations aligned centrally on the road and allow frequent operations for buses and quick fare collection services. BRT offers convenient and quicker bus services than regular bus services when built correctly.

A BRT is a typical feature for metro cities plagued with traffic woes. High-quality BRT corridors are associated with enhanced travel speeds and smoothening of traffic flow, which is ultimately expected to lower the emission of greenhouse gases. Here, we have shared more information about BRT meaning and significance.

What is BRT?

A BRT corridor can be considered a section of the road that serves as a bus route built with dedicated bus lanes. Only specific BRT corridors can be labelled under the BRT standard. According to the BRT standard, a corridor must have the following essential features to qualify as a Bus Rapid Transit -

  • It must be at least 3 km long and built with dedicated lanes.
  • Score at least 4 points in a dedicated right-of-way element.
  • Score at least 4 points for the busway alignment element.
  • Score at least 20 points in all five BRT elements.

History of BRT

The history of the Bus Rapid Transport System can be traced back to October 1971, when the Busway in Runcorn, England came into existence. In the United States, the first BRT was introduced in 1977, with Pittsburgh's South Busway. BRT makes the entire system of transportation more convenient for the public.

There is also an extensive system of Bus Rapid Transit in India. The Government of Hyderabad started the very first elevated BRT system, which connects the city with the airport. As per the vision of the bus system, a viaduct will be built on piers that are similar to the metro rail projects but at a lesser height. On this corridor, twin or three electric buses will run exclusively and connect several highly prominent locations.

BRT Features

Several features highlight how BRT corridors are different from regular lanes for vehicles, such as follows -

  • Priority is given to BRT at intersections.
  • There are reduced passenger delays due to purchasing fares and boarding processes.
  • Travel has become faster and reduced the traffic congestion caused due to the mixing of buses with other vehicles.
  • The system has brought efficiency and cost-effectiveness to the simplicity of a bus system.
  • BRT gives a straightforward way to reduce air pollution.

Advantages of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

There are several advantages of BRT corridors that make them a suitable infrastructural feature of modern metro cities:

  1. The overall vehicle kilometres passengers travel within the city can be brought down exponentially. BRT corridors shift sizeable commuters from individual vehicles to high-capacity bus systems, which can carry a heavy multiple of people at a time compared to the former.
  2. Installing new BRT corridors makes it possible for the city authorities to demolish old and polluting vehicles and bring newer and more efficient ones in their place.
  3. The efficiency of traffic movement due to BRT corridors leads to a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions and help to bring down air pollution.
  4. A well-structured BRT corridor system contributes to bringing down traffic-related accidents and reduces the number of fatalities on the road.
  5. The passenger boarding system can be enhanced significantly through a system of pre-paid booking and level platforms.
  6. The higher frequency of the bus service minimizes the waiting time for passengers, which saves their travelling time.

Bus Rapid Transit System in India

India has a vast BRT network that connects metropolitan and semi-metropolitan areas and offers travellers comfort in travelling due to the efficient BRT service. Here are the details about the Bus Rapid Transit system in India -

BRT System

Coverage (in km)

Amritsar Metrobus


Jaipur Bus Rapid Transit System


Raipur and Naya Raipur Bus Rapid Transit System


Visakhapatnam Bus Rapid Transit System


Surat Bus Rapid Transit System


Indore Bus Rapid Transit System


Rainbow Bus Rapid Transit System


Jodhpur Bus Rapid Transit System

160.6 + 320 (Planning)

Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit System


Rajkot Bus Rapid Transit System


Bhopal Bus Rapid Transit System


Hubli-Dharwad Bus Rapid Transit System


Vijayawada Bus Rapid Transit System


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FAQs on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Q1. What is the meaning of the Bus Rapid Transit System?

Bus Rapid Transit or BRT refers to a system of a seamless transit system of buses that offers dedicated lanes, fare collection, and off-board systems. As a result of a dedicated infrastructure, the overall quality of travelling in buses improves for the customers, and bus conductors/operators.

Q.2. What are the features of the Bus Rapid Transit System?

A BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system has many distinct characteristics, some of which are shared below -

  • Dedicated lanes for bus movement.
  • Simple and effective fare collection systems.
  • Smooth off-board and on-board areas.

Q3. What was the first Bus Rapid Transit System in India and the world?

The first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system was launched in the United Kingdom in October 1971, when the Busway in Runcorn, England was established. In India, the first BRT was the Rainbow Bus Transit System started in Pune in 2006.

Q.4. What is the Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] standard?

The Bus Rapid Transit BRT Standard is a scorecard that shows the different criteria and points values, describing several categories such as BRT basics shared below -

  • It must be at least 3 km long and built with dedicated lanes.
  • Score at least 4 points in a dedicated right-of-way element.
  • Score at least 4 points for the busway alignment element.
  • Score at least 20 points in all five BRT elements.

Q5. How does the Bus Rapid Transit System work?

With a dedicated system, a BRT ensures smooth transit for buses. A typical BRT system has roadways and lanes that are solely reserved for buses. It also has special prioritization for buses at intersections so that they can move with ease.