Annex 1 An Overview of High-Capacity BRT System (HCBRT)

Accessibility and Special Access Needs

HCBRT systems need to have a ‘metro’ like feel to be successful. The accessibility offered to all users can make a major contribution to the dignity of passengers and to the physical integration of cities divided into ‘wealthy’ and ‘poor’ sections.

This fundamental notion that the user can gain access to almost the entire city for the price of a single ticket has been used as both a political statement and a marketing tool. Integration terminals, when well located and designed, should thus be seen as an opportunity for offering new trip choices to passengers and not as a transfer penalty imposed on bus users by an insensitive administration.

In relation to the delicate question of special access needs, in most HCBRT systems there are two main methods in use:

  • Bringing the entire system up to full accessibility; or
  • Offering an auxiliary service.

This involves the delicate question of responsibilities: the right to be treated as a normal citizen with full access rights, versus the cost to society in general of providing such facilities. For example, fitting every bus unit with a wheelchair access lift that requires the driver to get out of the bus offers full access, but at an enormous cost in equipment, in time and extra fleet and is incompatible with the aim of offering low-cost mass transit. Most HCBRT systems thus try and allow special access needs to be incorporated through the use of modified infrastructure on major trunk routes.

The simplest form for trunk routes with at-floor boarding is to use ramps for passengers to reach the station or terminal platforms. The ‘tube’ stations in the Brazilian BRT system in Curitiba, for example, have a special lift, which permits wheelchairs or the infirm to be raised to the platform level. The extra wide bus doors allow for easy access to the bus and a special zone is reserved in each unit for passengers with wheelchairs. Where space is available, ramps to the station level still offer the best low-cost solution.

Outside these trunk routes there are a variety of options that have proved to offer good, cost effective solutions. The use of smartcards, for example, allows for registered passengers to have a certain number of credits that can be used on specialized taxis.

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