Nearly a year into operations, the TransCarioca BRT in Rio de Janeiro has become an important link in the city’s transit network and is bringing increased mobility and opportunity to city residents. Nonetheless, the system has room for improvements. In a recently released report, ITDP Brazil conducted rider surveys to determine who is using the system, and what its impacts are on the city.
In a survey of 1,005 users conducted in December 2014, ITDP found that TransCarioca is delivering significant benefits to thousands of riders, improving perceived quality of service and reducing travel times, emissions, and costs – even as some aspects of performance still need to be addressed to improve perceptions of overcrowding and integration with feeder lines.
According to the survey, 66% of respondents reported having a better perception of the BRT, compared to their previous trip mode. Those with lower perception generally attributed it to a poor feeder bus system and overcrowding on the system. Still, 77% approved of the bus interior experience, and the vast majority felt an increase in safety and security.
Encouragingly, 90% of respondents reported that their travel expenses decreased or stayed the same. This is especially important for the 64% of respondents who reported incomes below twice the minimum wage. The majority of trips taken (68%) were reported to be journeys to or from work, underscoring the importance of the system for employment opportunities for lower educated and lower income riders.
Users have seen an average 35% reduction in travel times. Even users who switched from cars, though just 4% of riders, reported an average time savings of 10%. This demonstrating that the system has benefits for all types of Rio residents, and has the potential to draw more riders out of cars, as services improve. 40% of users reported lower waiting times, although results were uneven. More than 26% still spend more than 10 minutes waiting.
The system is providing environmental and air quality benefits to the city, as well. Results from the TEEMP model show the BRT reducing emissions of C02 by 65,500 tons annually, or 1.3% reduction in transport related emissions in the city. The emissions also reduces 1.2 tons of particulate matter annually, key to improving air quality along the corridor.
Nonetheless, the survey revealed several performance issues with the system that must be addressed to improve service. Many of those surveyed (44%) had a negative perception of the capacity of buses, reflecting overcrowding on the system. In addition 25% of respondents negatively assessed the service provided by the feeder lines of the system, mainly citing the low frequency of buses and overcrowding.
Other issues identified by the survey included a low rate of transfers to other modes of transit, including subway connections (in part due to a lack of fare integration), or cycling (less than 1% of riders used a bicycle to access the corridor). Finally, though projections placed ridership numbers at 320,000 daily riders, the system currently operates at 200,000 passengers per day.
In response to the survey, ITDP Brazil developed a series of recommendations for improving the system’s operations.
- Improve the frequency of buses for both the truck and feeder lines to meet the demand and reduce overcrowding
- Improve the system integration with active transportation modes (walking and cycling), to reduce the impacts caused by motorized connections to the corridor
- Promote fare integration with the subway system to contribute to the access to the city
- Adopt Transit-oriented Development projects surrounding the corridor to create attractive walking environments and reduce car dependency
The second of four planned BRT corridors to open, TransCarioca earned a Gold Standard rating based on the system’s high quality design. The corridor is not only an mobility solution for the areas directly serviced by the system, but contributes to a stronger urban form and creates a more fair and balanced city in both social and environmental terms.
To read the full report, in Portuguese, click here.