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Policy Thinkers Series [12] Moving People > from Workhorse to Thoroughbred: Review of bus rapid transit and branded bus service performance in Australia and future opportunities

A major public policy debate has surrounded the relative success of bus priority and branding measures as compared with generic route services in attracting patronage. In this paper, a gross performance ratio is presented, to quantify the success for each of 7 Bus Rapid Transit and 20 Branded Bus Service systems as compared with regular route buses across six Australian capital cities.

The paper identifies the distinctive locational characteristics of various bus priority and brand identity initiatives as a way of controlling for influences that are not under the control of the offered services, so that various systems can be meaningfully compared, giving a net performance ratio. This allows an informed comparison between systems and cities, controlling for operating environment and other service characteristics. The results reinforce the merits of upgraded bus services both as standalone initiatives and also as an alternative to expensive, rail-based infrastructure investment.

The Paper provides 6 key recommendations to support a progressive commitment to positioning bus-based services within the broader remit of government to provide value for money investment in public transport in our cities and regions throughout Australia.

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