Guangzhou bus rapid transit system | China

Focus area: Mitigation
Location: Guangzhou, China
Activity established: February 2010

Versión en español 

The Guangzhou bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor opened in February 2010 after an extensive planning and design process by the Guangzhou Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute in partnership with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). The Guangzhou BRT is the is the first ‘metro replacement’ level BRT system outside South America.  The system carries more than triple the single-directional passenger flows of any other BRT system in Asia, and is second only to Bogota’s BRT, Transmilenio, worldwide.

It has the world’s highest BRT bus flows, with one bus every 10 seconds into the city in the morning rush hour. The system features a range of innovative and transformational features, and is the first high capacity BRT system worldwide to operate ‘direct service’ routes. Guangzhou’s BRT has no terminals and no interchanges, and uses predominantly regular 12 meter buses.

This new operational model is having a profound impact on BRT worldwide, as most cities now opt for ‘direct service’ rather than ‘trunk-feeder’ BRT operations. It is the first BRT system in China with more than one bus operator and the first with private sector operators.It is also the first BRT system worldwide with a bike sharing system planned and implemented at the same time along the corridor. Guangzhou BRT is a model for the affordable, low-carbon high-volume public transit desperately needed by fast-growing cities in the developing world.


Mitigation / Adaptation

Improvements in sustainable transport improve health outcomes by decreasing air pollution.

Passengers save a combined 32 million hours each year on daily commutes, with 850,000 average weekday riders.

Higher bus speeds and fewer bus kilometres, provide operational savings, which also result in a projected average annual saving of 84,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year over the first 10 years of the activity.

A recent impact analysis study found that the Guangzhou BRT system reduces 14 tons of the particulate matter emissions that cause respiratory illness on an average annual basis.

The BRT delivers significant environmental benefits for all residents of the city of Guangzhou (population 13 million).

Social and environmental benefits

Over 850,000 people now use this much-enhanced bus service every day. The immediate neighborhoods surrounding the BRT include “urban villages” where many low-income immigrants live and the BRT system improves their mobility. 

Improvements in sustainable transport improve economic outcomes for the city overall by lowering the cost of travel, giving improved access to jobs, and decreasing congestion for economic activity.

A recent Impact Analysis Study found several different significant local benefits to City of Guangzhou residents, especially those whom travel on this corridor:

  • Travel times on the corridor have improved for motorists and bus riders along the corridor 20 per cent and 29 per cent respectively;
  • Quality of bus service has improved dramatically with the implementation of real time bus info, new stations;
  • Thirty per cent higher bus speeds, resulting in an average time saving of 6.63 minutes per BRT trip, or 88,000 passenger-hours per day, or more than 30 million passenger-hours saved each year;
  • Reduction by half for out-of-pocket bus trip costs for passengers, from 4.9 yuan (December 2009) to 2.6 yuan (August 2010);
  • A 15 percent decrease in bus waiting times along the BRT corridor;                                  
  • A 50% increase in cycling along the BRT corridor in the highest demand locations

Potential for scaling-up and replication

The Guangzhou BRT system is scalable at national and international levels.

Nationally: ITDP, which led the planning of the activityin partnership with the City of Guangzhou, is currently working on replicating the activity in several other Chinese cities. A new BRT corridor is about to open in Lanzhou and many more projects are in development and planning, including Yichang, which will begin construction in 2013, having been directly influenced by the Guangzhou BRT system.

Internationally: The success of the Guangzhou BRT system is spurring BRT planning and design all over Asia and beyond. Study tours from multiple nations and multi-lateral institutions like the Asian Development Bank are ongoing in Guangzhou to learn from this design.  As of October 2012, ITDP has hosted more than 65 visiting delegations to the Guangzhou BRT system and related improvements to pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and public space projects such as greenways.

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Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.