Capacity-based cost modeling for light rail and bus rapid transit systems

Lo Rosa Hsu, Florida International University


Choosing between Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems is often controversial and not an easy task for transportation planners who are contemplating the upgrade of their public transportation services. These two transit systems provide comparable services for medium-sized cities from the suburban neighborhood to the Central Business District (CBD) and utilize similar right-of-way (ROW) categories. The research is aimed at developing a method to assist transportation planners and decision makers in determining the most feasible system between LRT and BRT. Cost estimation is a major factor when evaluating a transit system. Typically, LRT is more expensive to build and implement than BRT, but has significantly lower Operating and Maintenance (OM) costs than BRT. This dissertation examines the factors impacting capacity and costs, and develops cost models, which are a capacity-based cost estimate for the LRT and BRT systems. Various ROW categories and alignment configurations of the systems are also considered in the developed cost models. Kikuchi's fleet size model (1985) and cost allocation method are used to develop the cost models to estimate the capacity and costs. The comparison between LRT and BRT are complicated due to many possible transportation planning and operation scenarios. In the end, a user-friendly computer interface integrated with the established capacity-based cost models, the LRT and BRT Cost Estimator (LBCostor), was developed by using Microsoft Visual Basic language to facilitate the process and will guide the users throughout the comparison operations. The cost models and the LBCostor can be used to analyze transit volumes, alignments, ROW configurations, number of stops and stations, headway, size of vehicle, and traffic signal timing at the intersections. The planners can make the necessary changes and adjustments depending on their operating practices.

Subject Area

Civil engineering|Transportation

Recommended Citation

Hsu, Lo Rosa, "Capacity-based cost modeling for light rail and bus rapid transit systems" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3169458.