The Menace of BRT Creep

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 7 2013 1:05 PM

The Menace of BRT Creep

Hungarian pupil Csongor uses the tram to turn back home after school in Budapest on June 15, 2013.

Photo by FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images

I have a piece out today about how improving bus service is generally the low-hanging fruit of the transit improvement world, rather than things like mixed-traffic streetcars that look cool but offer few transportation benefits.

Something I've heard a lot in response is that people worry about "BRT creep." And they are right to worry! The way this works is that you start out by saying that this really great bus system will be way cheaper than a light rail line with a dedicated right-of-way, and then once the light rail proposal is dead you build a really crappy bus instead. That's terrible! But I don't think you should see that as a problem with buses, it's a problem with cheapskates. If you look at the H Street streetcar line in DC where we're spending a lot of money for little transportation benefit, the way I would frame it isn't that we spent too much money but that given the money we spent we got far too little transportation improvement. A similar amount of money spent on basically the same kind of project (improve the H Street Corridor's connection to downtown) could have accomplished a lot more had it been more focused on improving transportation in concrete ways and less on ribbon-cuttings and symbolism.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.