Annex 5 Case Studies and Lessons

BRT, Nagoya (Japan): The First and Most Well-Known BRT System in Japan

Source: Nagoya Guideway Bus Corporation

BRT System in a City with a Subway Network

Guideway Bus System with a High Speed of 30kph, High Capacity, and Good On-Time Performance

Key Route Buses with Bus Lanes Becoming Exclusive during Peak Hours

Cycle Parking and Car Parking for “Park and Ride”

Summary of the System
Capacity -
Users (whole system) 500,000 Passengers/day
Segregated busways on trunk roads Guideway Bus: exclusive guideways 6.8km;
busways on the roads 5.1km
Key Route Bus Line 1: 6.75 km
Key Route Bus Line 2: 9.2 km
Headway Guideway Bus: 3–5 minutes (peak period)
Key Route Bus Line 1: 3–5 minutes (peak period)
Key Route Bus Line 2: 1–2 minutes (peak period)
Number of Buses Guideway Bus: 25
Key Route Bus Line 1: 29
Key Route Bus Line 2: 52
Bus vehicle capacity per unit Guideway Bus: 64 passengers
Key Route Bus Line 1: 77 passengers
Key Route Bus Line 2: 73 passengers
Infrastructure cost Guideway Bus: US$ 26 million/km
Key Route Bus Line 1: US$ 0.6 million/km
Key Route Bus Line 2: US$ 2.3 million/km
Ticket price Guideway Bus: US$ 1.7 – US$ 5.5
Key Route Bus: US$ 1.7

City Characteristics

Source: Wikipedia

  • Nagoya is the third largest city in Japan following Tokyo and Osaka with an area of 326.45km2, an urban population of 2,225,866, and a population density of 6,818/km2
  • Unlike most cities in Japan, Nagoya has a wide, grid road network with 3–5 lanes on each side.
  • The development of metro in Nagoya started much later than other major Japanese cities.
  • Japan’s GDP per capita (2006) is US$33,100

The ‘Before’ Situation

Source: Urban Transport Annual Report, Japan
Transport Modal Share of Three Major
Metropolitan Areas in Japan in 1979

  • The modal share of public transport in Nagoya was significantly lower than that of other cities in Japan while that of the automobile was high.
  • In 1979, 11.1% of total trips were made by buses, 11.6% by metro, 16.5% by heavy rail, and 56.2% by private car.
  • Traffic congestion was severe especially during peak hours.

BRT Scheme Characteristics:

In order to increase the modal share of public transport and reduce traffic congestion, the Municipal Government of Nagoya developed a BRT system beginning in the early 1970s. They developed trunk bus systems, including “Guideway” buses, “Key Route” buses, and “Trunk” buses, along the major roads mot served by metro. The most well developed BRT systems are “Guideway” bus (opened in 2001) and “Key Route” buses (opened in 1982 and 1985). Also, other general buses provide feeder services connecting these main routes. As of this writing (2007), the total length of the existing 29 bus lanes is 90 km, most of which become exclusive buses lanes during peak hours, although they serve as mixed traffic lanes at other times. The average bus speed is 15 kph.

Scheme Cost: Guideway Bus System: 37.5 billion yen (total: 11.9km, guideway: 6.8km); Key Route Bus Line 1: 766 million yen (10.5 km); Key Route Bus Line 2: 2.8 billion yen (10.2 km)

Source: Compiled from Maps of Nagoya Municipality

Raised Exclusive Guideway – Guideway Buses: The buses run on the raised exclusive guideway (busway) above the roads with a high speed of 30kph, automatically guided by electricity in the city center. In the suburbs, where traffic is less, they run on existing roads as do other buses. The total route is 11.9km, 6.8km of which is exclusive guideway.

Exclusive Bus Lane Only During Peak Hour – Key Route Bus: The system uses bus priority lanes that become exclusive bus lanes during peak hours (7:00–9:00, 17:00–19:00). The bus lane for Line 1 is located at each side of the road while that of Line 2 is at the center of the road. The interval between each bus stop is designed as 600m. The total length of each line is about 10km.

Public The Transport Development Project Focusing on Reduction of Congestion and Environmental Burden: The BRT project in Nagoya focuses on increasing public transport modal shares to reduce traffic congestion and environmental burdens rather than the financial profitability of the project. The Nagoya Transport Authority in the municipal government is the implementation body of most parts of BRT system and the whole metro system in Nagoya as well as one of the bus operation bodies and only one metro operating entity. Although the authority’s operation balance has been in deficit, the municipal government has been investing for their operation and implementation of new lines to make Nagoya a more public transport oriented city.

Public Transport System Consisting of Metro and the Bus Network: Unlike most other BRT systems in the world where BRT is the main intracity public transport system by itself, BRT in Nagoya is a part of a public transport system that consists of both metro and the bus network. Because bus lane development is much less expensive than metro construction, busways were developed in the 1970s–1980s along the major roads that were not served by metro. However, when in the 1990s it became clear that bus lanes were less competitive with private vehicles compared to metro, the Nagoya Transport Authority changed its policy on BRT to further develop metro and convert its bus system into a feeder system for metro, a policy that is still pursued.

BRT Development without Organizational Reform: Since there were only two major operating bodies for intracity buses in Nagoya, the Nagoya Transport Authority and Meitetsu Bus Corporation (a private company), when the BRT system was developed in the 1970s, organizational reform of bus operating bodies was not necessary for implementation of the BRT system in Nagoya. Therefore, even after bus lanes were installed, the existing two operating bodies continued bus operation along the same routes as before. Only for Guideway buses opened in 2001, a so-called third-sector (joint public private venture) company was newly funded because of the project’s low profitability.

Public Sector Investment Scheme for Financially Less Profitable Project – Third Sector Scheme: The Guideway Bus System was implemented and has been operated by a third-sector (joint public private venture) company, Nagoya Guideway Bus Corporation. In such a third sector scheme, the public sector is responsible for most of the initial investment and delegates operation to the third-sector company. In this project, the Nagoya Municipal Government plays the main role of the public sector. Of the total implementation cost of 37.5 billion yen, the public sector owed 32 billion yen while the third sector company owed 5.5 billion. This financial structure is applicable only to projects that are not financially profitable but bring other benefits such as reductions in traffic congestion and emissions.

Busways Located at the Center Lanes and Side Lanes: The bus lane of Key Route Bus Line 2 is located at the center of the road, while that of Line 1 is located on both sides of the road, since bridge piers of the urban expressway do not allow center lanes. Since center lanes enable bus operation without conflicts from cars turning at intersections, stopping on the route, or running ahead, operations along Line 2 are much faster and performance more on time compared to Line 1.

Traffic Regulation with Colored Lanes: To clarify the bus lanes and strengthen the traffic regulation effect, all lanes of Key Route Bus Line 2 and some parts of Line are colored orange-yellow. In addition, Line 2 has a monitoring system on the bus route, which enables warning announcements to private vehicles entering the bus lane.

ITS Operation Adjustment: Key Route Bus Line 2 has a total control system, consisting of one central processor, CRT, and intelligence gathering equipment on the route and buses, which enable operation adjustment depending on passenger demand.

Park and Ride System: At one of the terminuses of the Key Route Bus Line 2 route, a bus terminal, a cycle parking space, and a car park for “park and ride” were newly provided at the same time as opening of Line 2 to increase its usability.

Guideway Bus: The Guideway Bus has both general tires to run on the road and guiding equipment leading the vehicle on the guideway. This system enables the vehicles to run on an elevated guideway on the routes with high traffic demand and to travel on general roads in suburban areas with low traffic volumes.

Source: Nagoya Guideway Bus Corporation.

Source: Nagoya Guideway Bus Corp


Guideway Bus Guideway bus station Key Route Bus Line 2


The public sector leadership for the bus system improvement in Nagoya was significant to develop a public transport oriented city. The Nagoya Transport Authority in the municipal government has planned and implemented the entire BRT system except Guideway bus as well as the whole metro system in Nagoya. This authority successfully improved the public transport network in Nagoya consisting of metro and bus systems.

The metro system and the bus system can support each other rather than compete, creating a public transport network together. In the public transport system in Nagoya, bus systems have been planned and implemented to support the metro system. This is an example that shows metro and bus systems can create one unified public transport network competing with private vehicles.

The organizational reform is not necessary if the planning, implementation and operation bodies are already well organized. Unlike many other BRT systems in the world, BRT in Nagoya was installed without an organizational reform. However, the planning, implementation and operation have been successful because the existing bodies were already well organized and skillful.

Busway at the center lane is more effective than that at sideline. Though there are not many differences between Key Route Bus Line 1 and 2 systems except the location of bus lanes, Line 2 with centered bus lanes is much faster and on time comparing to Line 1 with side bus lanes.

Guideway Bus is speedy and on-time but its implementation is more expensive than that of BRT without electricity. Nagoya installed the first Japanese Guideway Bus System with 30 kph of high-speed, high-capacity and good on-time performance. However, the scheme cost was more than 15 times of that of other busways without electricity.

PADECO, Study on Urban Transport Development, 2000; Lloyd Wright, Bus Rapid Transit, Sustainable Transport: A Sourcebook for Policy-makers in Developing Cities, Module 3b; Nagoya City Transportation Bureau, Key Route Bus System (Japanese); Nagoya City Transportation Bureau, Key Route Bus System – Aiming at a new public transport system (in Japanese); Nagoya City Transportation Bureau Homepage (Japanese); Guideway Bus Homepage (in Japanese); Telephone interview with Nagoya City Transportation Bureau and Nagoya Guideway Bus Corporation.

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