MAN Truck & Bus

Porträt von Prof. Dr. Andreas Knie, Verkehrsforscher an der TU Berlin

Even better than rails

Fast, flexible, inexpensive – and also especially safe for passengers: So-called bus rapid transit (BRT) systems are the ideal solution for large cities, claims transportation researcher Professor Andreas Knie.


Prof. Dr. Andreas Knie

is a transportation researcher at TU Berlin. From 2006 to 2018 he was managing director of the Innovation Centre for Mobility and Social Change (InnoZ) and directs the science policy research group at the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, WZB).

Professor Knie, what exactly is the difference between a bus rapid transit system and a conventional bus service?

KNIE The most important element of such a system are dedicated lanes on which buses travel separately from the rest of the traffic. So these are not just bus lanes that can simultaneously be used by other road users. But rather exclusively used lanes, which really cannot be used by anybody else. BRT buses do not therefore have to find their own way in crowded streets. Instead they can adhere to fast, safe and reliable timetables.

What does this involve?

KNIE There can be additional elements to this, such as closed stations more akin to underground stations than a bus stop, for example, or the obligation for passengers to validate their tickets before boarding.

Ein MAN Lion's City fährt im Regen auf einer Busspur
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Bus offensive The city of Munich is increasingly relying on buses and exclusive bus lanes for public passenger transport © Florian Peljak/Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo

What are the benefits of this concept?

KNIE Transport planners are always looking for systems that can be established as smoothly as possible and then reliably transport as many people as possible from A to B during operation. BRT systems are faster, more flexible and thus cheaper to build than a tram network. This naturally applies even more in comparison to underground and S-Bahn trains in tunnels or on elevated tracks. Yet the BRT approach works with large vehicles at rapid intervals, whereby many passengers can be transported within a relatively short time, similar to the previously mentioned light rail vehicles.

How does BRT system perform in direct comparison to rail systems?

KNIE Supporters of BRT systems, myself included, will always say that buses are now better than rail vehicles – simply because the market dynamics for transit buses is greater than among manufacturers of underground trains or trams. There are more sophisticated products that are also continually improving due to technical innovations.

Text   Florian Sievers
Photos   Gene Glover (Header)

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