United States


America’s public policy and investment strategy in the twentieth century focused on highway expansion and separated land use. While these decisions spurred growth, they also encouraged sprawl, increased driving, and ultimately took a toll on community livability, energy security, and the environment. Today, ITDP US is helping cities to rethink their growth strategy and refocus on revitalizing downtowns, smart public transit, and dense mixed use development.

In the last decade, a few US cities have taken the bold steps necessary to develop BRT corridors that rank as bronze-standard or better. However, many other cities, in an attempt to redress some of the transportation problems plaguing America, have simply labeled minor bus improvements as “BRT,” tarnishing the BRT brand in the US. Increasingly, however, cities are finding that marginal improvements to their bus system are not bringing about the fundamental transformation in urban transportation that they had hoped. Today, due in part to the work of ITDP US over the past several years, more and more governments are beginning to make the distinction between simple bus improvements and true BRT. Further, several US cities are racing to build the first “gold-standard” BRT in the United States.

Since 2008, ITDP has explored opportunities to advance gold-standard BRT in the US. Through a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, ITDP’s early work in the US identified those cities which had already implemented true BRT and out of that, came a scoring system now known internationally as The BRT Standard. ITDP US has used The BRT Standard to help US cities raise their aspirations when planning BRT projects. In recent years, ITDP US has been working intensively in Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston to provide direct technical and political assistance towards the development of full gold-standard BRT in each of these cities. As one of the world’s leading organizations in BRT planning, we have been using our knowledge and experience from cities around the globe to bring true, gold-standard BRT to the US.

ITDP’s full report on BRT in the US can be found below:
Recapturing Global Leadership in Bus Rapid Transit: A Survey of Select U.S. Cities

In addition, a grant from The Ford Foundation is enabling ITDP US to assist cities in developing gold-standard transit-oriented development (TOD) projects around the country’s newest BRT systems. Many American cities are finding that transit-oriented development (TOD) can help combat congestion and other problems associated with sprawling, car-dominated suburban growth. Increasingly, US cities, finding themselves short on funds, are now discovering that BRT can solve both their mobility needs and the desired land use patterns with a bigger bang for their buck than light rail. ITDP US recently completed a comprehensive study on the land development impacts of BRT, LRT, and streetcars in US and Canadian cities, and what kind of a role the government must play.

That report can be found here:
More Development for Your Transit Dollar: An Analysis of 21 North American Transit Corridors

Today, ITDP US is working on identifying the regulatory and financial mechanisms that can help promote more TOD in cities around the US, and we are using our findings to spread best practices on TOD implementation around the world.

For more information about the US, please contact unitedstates@itdp.org