Guangzhou will have more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) of mostly-underground metro by late 2010. Yet the highest capacity mass transit line in terms of peak passenger flows will not be a subway, but rather the first line of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, currently under construction.
At $6 million per kilometer (about $9.7 million per mile), Guangzhou’s BRT system is ten times cheaper than the subway, and includes tunnels connecting BRT and subway stations. Passenger flows of more than double any other BRT system in Asia are projected upon opening in early 2010.
Since over 75% of all public transport trips will continue to be by bus even when 300 kilometers (186 miles) of subway are built, subways alone are not enough. What is required is a citywide coverage of subway, BRT, and regular buses, with bicycles and walking as the key access modes to an integrated mass transit system.