The strange notion that bus-rapid transit isn’t “true” bus-rapid unless it uses lanes dedicated only to buses has infected Denver. The city is now considering converting two lanes of Colfax, the most important (and most congested) east-west street in the region, into dedicated bus lanes.
This would make the remaining lanes even more congested, yet Denver’s Regional Transit District (RTD) simply does not have enough buses to fully utilize dedicated lanes. Despite this, the idea has gained the editorial endorsement of the Denver Post, which nonsensically claims that this would “fix” Colfax’s congestion problems.
Recall that Istanbul has a dedicated busway that supports more than 250 buses per hour. RTD has less than 1,200 buses in total, the vast majority of which never go on Colfax. It would never be able to run more than a small fraction of 250 buses per hour down Colfax, even if the demand existed, which it does not.
Ironically, Denver already has a successful example of bus-rapid transit that doesn’t use dedicated lanes: the Flatiron Flyer, which uses high-occupancy/toll lanes between Denver and Boulder. Despite not having dedicated lanes, it is faster than any of Denver’s rail transit lines.
The HOT lanes attract enough cars off of adjacent lanes to truly relieve congestion on U.S. 36, while the tolls insure that the buses never have to deal with congestion. That’s true bus-rapid transit. The idea that bus-rapid transit is only true BRT if it takes away lanes from others is truly stupid.