Freeway Bus Rapid Transit


Fast, Flexible, Affordable

Proposed Express RoutesFreeway BRT is a concept I created that would allow express buses to exit at diamond interchanges, drop off and pick up passengers for transfers to other bus lines, and then immediately re-enter the freeway. The perfect place to test this concept would be at SR-315 and Lane Avenue. Allowing existing express buses (#30, #60, #61) to stop at Lane Avenue would create express service to OSU, the second biggest employment center in the region. It would be necessary to re-route the #84, CABS routes, or create a new route for transfers on Lane Avenue.  A system that requires transfers isn't ideal, but I don't think transferring at Lane & 315 is any worse for riders than the current system parking on west campus and taking a CABS bus.

If successful, the concept could be expanded to other diamond interchanges in the region. On SR-315, this includes Ackerman Road and SR-161. I-70 East and West have diamond interchanges at Miller/Kelton, Hamilton Road, and West Broad Street. I-670 routes could exit at Leonard Avenue and 5th Avenue I-71 North is particularly interesting, with potential stations at up to nine interchanges from SR-161 to 5th Avenue. Click on the regional map above and to the right for an expanded view. Below are maps illustrating the possibilities on I-71:

Proposed I-71 North Express Routes

The combination of several routes on one freeway would create a frequency of service comparable to a light rail line. In fact, the I-71 route runs practically adjacent to the tracks for COTA's formerly proposed North Corridor light rail line. The BRT is better though, because it could have direct one-seat service to multiple destinations. You could go straight to Polaris, Crosswoods, St. Ann's Hospital, uptown Westerville, or anywhere else that merits service, without transferring. The flexibility is a key advantage of the system. Also remember that COTA uses shoulder-riding to bypass congestion on freeways.

Not all runs would stop at all stations. Some trips would run express to downtown. Some trips might stop only at 17th Avenue for transfers to and from campus and the airport. During off-peak periods and on weekends (which you don't have on express routes now), buses would probably make all local stops. You would have to check the schedule to know if a run is local or express. A mix of local and express trips is common on commuter rail systems.  Think of Freeway BRT as commuter rail with more spur lines and no tracks.

The cost of my proposed system would be considerably lower than a light rail line because COTA wouldn't have to purchase, rehabilitate, and maintain tracks. I completed a rough cost estimate for the I-71 Blue Line and came up with just over $32 Million. This includes:

  • $16.4 Million for new vehicles
  • $6.7 Million for a new smart-card ticketing system and ticket vending machines that would have system-wide benefits
  • $4.9 Million for precision docking systems and GPS guidance for shoulder running
  • $3.9 Million for shelters, stations, real-time bus arrival information, and turnouts (stations only) at 85 stops and 14 mainline stations
  • $200,000 for signal priority at mainline stations.

My station design concept for I-71 & 11th Avenue is shown below. I don't necessarily think that 11th Avenue is the best place to start my system, but it was the site I had to submit for the American Institute of Architects Columbus Rewired design competition.

Phase 1

  • Re-stripe freeway exits to create bus-only queue jump lanes.
  • Build concrete waiting areas.
  • Install shelters and other amenities such as bicycle parking racks.

Click on the image to see a full-sized .pdf version.

Phase 2

  • Implement transit signal priority (TSP) systems to reduce traffic signal delays at stations. TSP allows transit and emergency vehicles to extend a green light or truncate the cross-traffic's green light in order to call a green light sooner.

Phase 3

  • Build transit oriented development (TOD) in the form of freeway caps that would widen sidewalks, and mitigate negative impacts of the freeway (noise, smell, etc...).
  • Create left side stations in order to bring northbound and southbound stations closer together.

Click on the image to see a full-sized .pdf version.