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.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.