Thursday, December 14, 2006

Alan Hoffman of the Mission Group Speaks on BRT

Alan Hoffman of The Mission Group spoke on Dec 6 about
BRT and transit at "The Forum at Redwood City: A Continuing
Conversation on City Design."

The forum was attended by about fifty people,
including the mayor of Redwood City. Half of the time was
spent in a discussion of research that has been done on what it
would take to get people out of their cars - the other half
covered BRT systems.

Some of the points:

1) Transit will decongest roadways only if transit time is better
than drive time. "Can it get me there quickly without having to wait?"

2) Flexible BRT systems with dedicated busways, multiple door
loading, and pre-payment are essential if transit is going to compete
with the automobile.

3) Transit systems must also have good door-to-door connectivity.
"Will it get me from Point A to Point B?"

4) Headways must be less than 10 minutes. Transfers should be
minimized through system design. The BRT system in Brisbane,
Australia is noteworthy for the way that it has reduced the necessity
for transfers.

5) People must feel good about the experience. Good customer
service, safety, and aesthetics are essential. Bus stops and transit
centers should be well-designed, clean, and transparent. Bus shelters
should not be covered with ads or anything else that prevents a clear
view from the street.

6) Transit systems should be designed with a great deal of
consideration for the preferences of women. Safety is of paramount
importance. Hoffman mentioned one city whose mayor is a woman who
insisted that the bus system be designed so as to be easy to use by a
woman with a baby in a stroller carrying a backpack.

7) One-sixth of the public truly prefer transit. One-sixth will
never use transit. Two-thirds will use transit if it will compete
with the automobile in connectivity, frequency of service, and if
they feel good about the "riding experience".

8) He questioned the value of piecemeal approaches to BRT.

According to Hoffman, San Diego is giving thought to BRT.

He also discussed Brisbane, Australia's BRT system and mentioned that
the cricket stadium in Brisbane, Australia has seating for 30,000
people and no parking lot - see
for a description of the Brisbane Cricket Ground (there go the
tailgate parties). According to the website, transit tickets are
included in the price of admission to the stadium.

Alan Hoffman is a founding principal of the The Mission Group, San
Diego, CA. A description of The Mission Group can be found at along with several reports on transit
which can be downloaded in pdf format. One of particular interest is
"Smart Growth, Smarter Transit: What Really Increases Transit
Ridership." Many of the points mentioned by Hoffman in his
presentation are covered in this report.

I would recommend that anyone interested in BRT listen to Alan
Hoffman speak if they have the opportunity.

I'm grateful to Joel Ramos of TALC ( for his help with this note and for
letting us know about this event.

Len Conly


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