Sustainable Mass Rapid Transit by light rail, bus and bicycle: a comparison

‘Rapid transit system’ is a term used for rail, bus and cycle networks. For trips up to 5 miles (8 km) cycle networks transport more people in less time than rail or bus networks. eBikes operated on cycle networks further reduce journey times and make cycle networks competitive for longer distances, up to 10 miles (16 km).

Compare mass rapid transport systems

For station-to-station trips rail is fastest. For door-to-door trips  up to  5-8 miles (8-12 km) cycling provides the shortest journey times unless you live and work beside stations. Bus rapid transit systems run at faster speeds than bikes but journeys take longer because they provide for few door-to-door journeys.

Comparison chart: costs and benefits of mass transit by bike, bus, taxi, car, train, tram

From the perspective of city planners, cycle transport has many advantages.

 For short to medium journeys cycling is faster, cheaper, healthier, more sustainable and more enjoyable than other rapid transit modes.

To realise the full value of cycle infrastructure:

  • cycle paths, bike lanes etc must be integrated with other mass transit networks by planning railway stations as hubs for local cycle networks
  • individual cycleways must be interconnected to form a network
Rail, bus, walking and cycling networks must be integrated

See also:

Costs, benefits and cost benefit ratios of Crossrail and a Londonwide Cycleway Network.

16 Principles for Cycleway Network Planning

Four step model for bicycle network infrastructure planning

Bicycle network planning and design : in Edinburgh, Cambridge and London
How to integrate cycling with urban design: Copenhagenize

Tom Turner

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