Cleveland BRT Photo via Wiki Commons
Next fall, residents of Southeast Michigan will have an opportunity to vote on a property tax millage to fund a new regional public transportation system. One of the components of that system is bus rapid transit, or BRT. Since we've never had a system like that in place, it's understandable to wonder what it might look like.
But Cleveland's BRT HealthLine has been around since 2008. And for those wondering, The Detroit Free Press recently published an article with the title, "Curious about bus rapid transit? Check out Cleveland."
There are many benefits and services of HealthLine. "Buses generally arrive at each station every 5-7 minutes during busier times of day," writes Eric Lawrence. "They travel on separate lanes for about 80 percent of the route and get traffic signal preference that is controlled by GPS. Service also runs all day. Level platform boarding makes getting on and off easier. Stations are covered and have seating and message boards, and riders purchase passes ahead of time."
That dedicated lane and traffic signal preference means commutes have been shortened considerably, which has resulted in a 60 percent increase in ridership. This does contribute to a complaint, expressed by rider James Hunt: "He said the 'only downside' to the HealthLine is 'how full it'll get.'"
BRT has had measurable effects on Cleveland's economy as well: "$6.3 billion in economic development," according to experts. HealthLine has been so successful, that it's the only BRT line in the United States to receive a "silver" rating by the New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.
If Cleveland is any indicator, it would behoove Southeast Michigan to approve the millage next election.
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.