Analysis of Policy Processes to Introduce Bus Rapid Transit Systems in Asian Cities from the Perspective of Lesson-drawing: Cases of Jakarta, Seoul, and Beijing

In Air Pollution Control in the Transportation Sector: Third Phase Research Report of the Urban Environmental Management Project
Chapter: Chapter IV.7
Report Chapter

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is commonly understood to mean a system that emphasises priority for and rapid movement of buses by securing segregated busways, although there is no precise definition of what constitutes a BRT system (International Energy Agency (IEA) 2002; Wright 2005). From an environmental perspective, BRTs have the potential to reduce emissions of GHGs at a lower cost than rail systems, while carrying more passengers with higher speed than normal bus services, in both developing and developed countries.

Policy makers in some of the large cities in Asia recently started to consider BRT as an option for their urban transport. On 15 January 2004, the TransJakarta busway was started along a 12.9 km corridor through the city centre. On 1 July 2004, BRT corridors were installed as part of Seoul’s reform of its public transport system. On 25 December 2004, the first stage commercial operation of BRT was started in Beijing. In these new BRT systems in Asia, the influences of existing BRT systems such as those in Curitiba and Bogotá show that those Asian cities actually learned lessons from the Latin American countries.

This research aims to uncover the reason why introduction of BRTs in Asia accelerated around 2004 from the perspective of lesson-drawing. Specifically, through comparative study of three Asian cities, this study examines who played important roles in lesson-drawing processes on BRTs and what their roles were, and what factors motivated those actors to draw lessons on BRT. Case studies are conducted in Jakarta, Seoul, and Beijing, the three pioneering cities of BRT in Asia. The hypotheses of this study are developed on the roles of actors in lesson-drawing processes specifically focusing on international organisations and political leaders, and influence of the Asian economic crisis on the preferences of policy makers. The hypotheses are tested through review of newspaper articles on BRT in those cities, and a questionnaire survey with key individuals who were involved in the adoption processes of those BRT systems.