Stories like this one from Markham Hislop in the SE Calgary News about a new “bus rapid transit” line make me very suspicious of BRT.  BRT advocates make a big deal about how much like surface-level rail BRT can be.  It can have raised boarding platforms, so the bus doesn’t have to kneel to let people on.   It can have its own lanes and the same signal priority that surface-level rail can have.  Stations can be set up to collect fares, so when the bus comes, no one wastes any time paying fares while they’re boarding.  And all of this makes the bus go faster.

But Jacques Derrida says that meanings float, and transportation authorities say that any old limited-stop bus is “BRT.”  I don’t know Calgary well so I can’t say for sure, but this article (and the video that accompanies it) really makes it sound like this new route is nothing but a big, articulated bus that makes limited stops.  You know, like the B-Line.  Which Translink has occasionally, and misleadingly, referred to as BRT.  You say BRT and people think of Bogata’s awe-inspiring Transmilenio bus system.  They don’t think of the B-Line gong-show.

In any case, this story from Wired says Calgary’s using these fake-BRT, limited-stop buses as stop-gap measures until they can extent their successful C-Train rail line, so maybe it doesn’t matter that much anyway.  Still, why not call a limited-stop bus what it is, rather than what it’s not?

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