Running ways. Though the Quickway model builds off of grade separation, many routes leave the guideway at some point, operating in city bus mode (as a local or express service) along arterials. By way of contrast, most Light Rail Lite implementations go to considerable efforts to maintain a dedicated BRT right-of-way or a consistency of treatments along the entire length of the route. Then, too, Quickways are rarely located within existing roadways, but may parallel them, so as to ensure adequate space for stations as well as optimum station location.
Stations. Stations are at the Quickway model’s heart. They are the customer experience focal point and the primary means of branding the service. Quickway stations are designed for higher passenger and bus volumes than equivalent Light Rail Lite stations. Grade-separated pedestrian crossings minimize potential conflicts with buses.
Vehicles. The Light Rail Lite model favors the use of specialty BRT vehicles which more closely mimic light rail vehicles in terms of design and passenger comfort. As implemented to date, the Quickway model has been based either on standard transit buses or, in the case of Bogotá, high-floor transit buses with wide, level-boarding doors, but which otherwise are standard articulated transit buses.
Intelligent transportation systems. Most implementations of Light Rail Lite depend on advanced signaling systems to give transit vehicles some measure of priority at intersections; these systems are not required for Quickways. Advanced passenger information systems may be deployed, but have not proven essential to Quickway operations. In general, the major travel time savings made possible by grade-separated Quickway infrastructure renders many technology-based BRT treatments redundant.
Fare collection. Most implementations of Light Rail Lite employ off-board fare collection as a means of minimizing vehicle dwell times: Only Bogotá among the Quickway examples relies on this technique (but in doing so more resembles heavy-rail systems by using stored-fare media and a barrier system); other Quickway cities rely on grade separation to reduce total travel time. This is slowly changing, especially where bus and passenger volumes warrant shorter dwell times.
Service patterns. Quickway-based cities use the infrastructure to create a range of services which take people directly to major employment sites, both on and off the guideway, often eliminating intervening stops and transfers in the process. The Light Rail Lite model generally produces single routes per corridor serviced, imposes additional modal transfers, requires all vehicles to stop at all stations and in a number of cases delivers people not to employment sites but to a rail station for an additional modal transfer.
Identity and branding. Quickway-based systems are more likely to brand the infrastructure (the guideways themselves and the stations that serve them) than any particular service using them. In contrast, most Light Rail Lite implementations of BRT focus on branding the vehicles and the particular routes they serve.
Strategic intent. Quickways, by changing the underlying economic performance of transit services, allow operators to significantly “ramp-up” service in order to meet ambitious mode-split or ridership targets.
International Case Studies
Three international cities represent the state of the practice in implementing the Quickway model.
Ottawa: Transitway. Ottawa, Ontario, was the first city to develop a network of grade-separated Quickways — the Transitway — which it used to operate a range of local, branching and express services. Ottawa developed its Transitway as a cost-effective means of meeting ambitious mode-split targets which were dictated by its long-range land use plan and adopted transportation policies.
Ottawa’s Transitway system has been limited by at-grade operation using bus lanes through its relatively dense downtown core, leading to congestion, travel delays and political pressures to convert its Transitway to light rail. Nonetheless, the Transitway at its busiest point matches the highest-volume light rail line in Canada or the United States and gives Ottawa the highest per-capita transit mode share by far of any midsized city in Canada or the United States.
Bogotá: TransMilenio. Bogotá’s TransMilenio planners didn’t start off with the Quickway model. Rather, they backed into it after confronting the limitations of the Light Rail Lite model to meet crushing passenger demand. Though TransMilenio’s busways are only partially grade-separated, grade-crossings are still relatively minimal for an urban system, and the system was designed to support both passenger and vehicle volumes normally associated with high-volume heavy rail systems.