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Guangzhou, China: Winning The Future With BRT

Guangzhou is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The economic hub of China's southern coast, it has undergone three decades of rapid modernization, and until recently the city’s streets were on a trajectory to get completely overrun by traffic congestion and pollution. But Guangzhou has started to change course. Last year the city made major strides to cut carbon emissions and reclaim space for people, opening new bus rapid transit and public bike sharing systems.

The Guangzhou BRT system opened in February 2010. It now carries 800,000 passengers a day, seamlessly connecting riders to both the metro system and the city's new bike-share network. For these innovations, Guangzhou won the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy's 2011 Sustainable Transport Award. Watch this Streetfilm and see how one of the world's most dynamic cities is "winning the future" on its streets.


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Karl Fjellstrom:  [00:09] This is Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, population of about 10 to 15 million.  It’s the main city and the fastest growing economy in the fastest growing province in the fastest growing country in the last 30 years. Now increasingly Guangzhou is becoming known for sustainable transport.

 

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Walter Hook:  [00:35] Guangzhou won the International Sustainable Transportation Award this year because of their remarkable new Bus Rapid Transit system.

 

Xiaomei Duan:  [00:44] We promote Bus Rapid Transit in China to solve the train station congestion problem.  BRT means Bus Rapid Transit where the surface level metro is used the high condensity bus and new bus technology and there’s a real bus priority method. 

 

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Karl Fjellstrom:  [01:04] What the Guangzhou BRT has done is to raise the bar.  So this is more than three times bigger than any other BRT system in Asia.  Well 800,000 passengers a day, 27,000 passengers per hour carried in a single direction. 

 

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Speaker:  [01:19] It is very convenient to take the BRT.  We often had traffic jams at Zhongshan Avenue.  Now it’s much more convenient.  It takes about half an hour to travel from the Sports Centre to Chebei. 

 

Speaker:  [01:37] I usually travel from Dongpu to the Sports Centre.  It took me about 40 minutes to an hour.  Now it takes me 10 to 20 minutes.  It is much faster. 

 

Xiaomei Duan:  [01:54] We have 23 kilometres and they say the first cargo, and they have 26 stations, and our stations is prepaid.  People pay before to enter the station, and so when they’re boarding a bus, they don’t need to pay again.  And our station is different size.  For example, in the city centre and have a lot of people, then the stations are big, four modules and more than 240 metres long.  The suburban area is small, it’s 16 metres.  We design the station according to the demand. 

 

Karl Fjellstrom:  [02:27] Buses can overtake other buses.  So if one bus has stopped at one sub-stop, the bus behind at a previous one can move in and take over as it doesn’t have to wait behind it.  The Guangzhou BRT is also a direct service BRT.  So that means that the buses come in and out of the BRT corridor without the passengers needing to transfer, to stop at the end and to transfer to another line, so you won’t see any interchanges, you won’t see any transfer terminals.  That’s because the buses can continue outside the corridor. 

 

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Xiaomei Duan:  [03:02] Also think about multimodal integration.  And [unintelligible 03:07] corridor we have three metro stations integrated with our BRT station.  And along the all the BRT stations we designed the bike stations. 

 

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Karl Fjellstrom:  [03:23] It’s the first BRT system in China to include bicycles in the design.  So now we have 5,000 bikes in 113 stations along the BRT corridor, you know public bike system.  And there are also about 5,500 bike parking positions included in the BRT design. 

 

Wu Renyu:  [03:39] We wanted to use the BRT as a trunk line and use the public bicycles to connect to the BRT line so that we can disperse the passenger volume and make travelling more convenient for the residents around this area. 

 

Speaker:  [03:56] My home is near here so I rode a bicycle to come here.  It only took a little more than 10 minutes. 

 

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Speaker:  [04:05] It is good exercise to ride a bicycle.  I do not have time to exercise after I go to work.  Besides, I can control the time to go to work. 

 

Wu Renyu:  [04:16] In Guangzhou, Yang Cheng Tong can be used to pay the costs for buses.  It can even be used to buy commodities.  Almost everybody has one.  It is very convenient for the citizens to us Yang Cheng Tong as the payment system to pay for bicycle sharing. 

 

Xiaomei Duan:  [04:36] We also planned the nice pedestrian plaza and urban design along this corridor, also the bicycle facility improvements.  So now we are in planning phase to choose the second corridor.  And then we want to build another one and then can also build a better one. 

 

Karl Fjellstrom:  [04:55] So what we hope now is that new systems can come out and can improve on the Guangzhou system.

 

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  • Robert

    Buses can go 40mph, but designers can take this into account, and make it so that sidewalks and cycle paths are away from the BRT right of way except when crossing the street; such bike and pedestrian crossings can be grade separated or, in low traffic, lower frequency systems (buses running at 2 minute intervals or less frequently), surface crossings (signalled pedestrian crossings and properly signed BRT priority crossings for cyclists) can still be safely implemented.

  • Robert

    Well, when you point the blasted camera at the station, where buses are supposed to stop anyway, you'll get footage of buses going slowly or stopping. I think that's pretty obvious. Since most of the footage of this system is taken at the stations, it will obviously rarely show the advantage.

  • Robert

    Where did you come up with the idea that people would rather spend an hour in a traffic jam than take a 10 minute bus ride to where they were going? This is, in my experience, not the case; if equal or better alternatives are provided, many if not most people choose not to drive. I know plenty of people who think driving is stressful and don't want to do it if they don't have to do so.
    I also have made basic calculations that all the smog is in fact caused by cars, not by BRT, unless you have near zero car traffic.
    Concluding that BRT is the problem is, in my opinion rather like concluding that you can reach a village, but only on a pedestrian only dirt trail that requires you to use three rickety bridges, climb and a 10,000 ft mountain and descend the said mountain, and swing across four rivers using a vine. In all likely situations, I would view that village as unreachable; the same is true for reaching the conclusion that BRT is a problem.

  • Robert

    China is not nearly as communist as it once was. That is why they haven't gone the way of the USSR.

  • Robert

    I can see what you mean, though.