Bus Rapid Transit: Taichung’s next step toward a low-carbon city
Words and photos by Taichung City Government
Translated by Angel Pu
An initial sketch of the BRT network plan.
As construction of Taichung city’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) network begins, the city government has introduced the innovative new idea of making all of its future MRT lines–except the under-construction Green Line–into a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Current plans call for the first Zhonggang Road section of MRT’s Blue Line to become the first BRT trial-operation line. The MRT Orange Line (Zhongqing Road) may also be included in this trial. If everything goes well, construction of this system could be launched in the middle of next year and finished within two years, making it Taiwan’s first BRT system.
Low-carbon, high-performance intelligent transportation
The Bus Rapid Transit concept was pioneered in Curitiba in Brazil and represents a new high-capacity form of rapid transportation. Using modern bus technology (like high-capacity, low-floor designs and developed guideway transit systems) and other intelligent transit systems, BRT lanes will be set up along existing city roads. To achieve a level of mass transportation that is close to that of a traditional MRT system, authorities have also decided to adopt a MRT-style operation pattern, basically meaning that buses resemble a MRT.
According to the city’s Transportation Bureau, BRT uses improved buses in exclusive lanes. With the flexibility of normal buses and the passenger-loading speed of a MRT, it moves quickly thanks to exclusive traffic signals. Among other many advantages, construction and operational costs are low, construction periods are short, and performance is high.
Taiwan’s first-ever BRT to promote Taichung
By contrast to Taipei city’s exclusive express bus lanes, Taichung’s BRT will use articulated buses. Many developed countries (such as the United States, Canada, Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) use BRT, each with its own unique features that have made all of these systems urban tourist attractions. According to Transportation Bureau Director General Lin Liang-tai, Taichung’s future articulated buses will be very creative, too, with body designs incorporating Taichung city urban images. There will also be a variety of bus station designs. These attractive articulated buses will no longer just serve as convenient forms of mass transportation, but will also become one of Taichung’s most unique attractions.
According to current laws, articulated buses cannot be used on Taiwan’s streets. Therefore, Taichung’s Transportation Bureau is actively proposing that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) amend laws before December so that Taiwan can make use of these vehicles. The ministry already held a meeting in March to discuss amendments to related regulations and authorized the Vehicle Safety Certification Center to carry out research and draw up a proposal. The amendment process is on-going and thus far the MOTC has expressed optimism about Taichung’s proposed BRT, and hopes that the city can become a BRT model for Taiwan.
Quick construction enhances convenience
The Transportation Bureau estimates that the budget for building a single medium-high capacity underground MRT line can be used to develop five medium-high capacity overhead MRT lines. In turn, this means that the cost for building one medium-high capacity underground MRT line can instead be used to develop 25 BRT lines. In addition, BRT doesn’t take as much time to build, needing only two or three years to create a network of over 50 kilometers. Clearly, passengers cannot transfer to their destinations with only a single MRT line, and a good MRT system needs a full network to attract passengers. A super-sized, post city-county merger Taichung needs a rapid transit network that can be built quickly in order to meet the needs of all city areas.
Director General Lin noted that Taichung needed a network that connected New City Hall, Yang Ming Building, Taichung Port, Taichung Ching Chuan Kang Airport, Taichung High-Speed Rail Station, the High-Speed Rail Redevelopment Zone, Taichung Gateway Park, Central Taiwan Science Park, and Taichung Port Redevelopment Zone. The total length of such a network will be about 60 kilometers and, using BRT lines, the total budget will fall under NT$9 billion.
As noted above, the city government has selected TaiZhongGang (Taichung Port) Road for a trial BRT line. This Blue Line will connect the city railway station to Tunghai University with a full length of 11.5 kilometers and construction budget of NT$1.45 billion. Because the BRT on Taichung Port Road needs its own lane, the Transportation Bureau plans to either reduce the width of original traffic lanes or delete roadside parking spaces. At the same time, the goal is to minimize any negative impact on car lanes and traffic along the road. If the Orange Line, connecting Daya and Wufeng districts (via ZhongQing, Daya and Guoguang roads) is constructed at the same time as the Blue Line, Taichung city will have use of three lines, giving its mass rapid transit system a huge boost.
Taichung BRT page (Only Chinese)
Every blue line BRT public hearing information , you can download and watch all , but it’s only chinese version , blue line public hearing will keep going to Dec 2012 , one month one public hearing , Jan 2013 start to build blue line BRT.
Taichung Six Line BRT And Red Line And MRT Green Line Road Map(Onlny Chinese)
BRT Blue Line Station Design
我愛台中 BRT FB (I love Taichung BRT FB) , if you have any suggest about Taichung BRT, you can leave your message to them . they will see it and maybe reply to you.