Driver assist and automation systems can substantially increase the cost of a new bus.

Nationwide,United States

Summary Information

A Transportation Research Board (TRB) study examined the costs, impacts, and effectiveness of several bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in the United States and abroad. Unit costs were identified for several BRT components. Guidance was provided to help agencies estimate capital and operating costs relative to their location and scale of application.

Representative development and operating costs from Exhibit S-1 of the source report are listed below (Engineering and design costs included).


Capital Cost (2004 dollars)
Off-street buswayAt-grade
$5 million per route-mile
$13 million per route-mile
- Elevated
$50 million per route-mile
- Tunnel
$200 million per route-mile
On-street buswayMedian arterial busway
$4 million per route-mile
Bus lane - new construction
$25 million per route-mile
Bus lane - striping lane
$100,000 per route-mile

Development costs include land acquisition, construction, and engineering. These costs vary by running way location, type, design features, and the type of terrain traversed. Busway operating costs have been estimated at $10,000 per year per lane-mile.


Capital Cost (2004 dollars)
Queue bypassParking removal
Negligible per approach
Use of right turn lane
Negligible per approach
Added lane
$300,000 per approach
Curb extension
$60,000 per extension
Transit signal priority (TSP)
$30,000 per intersection
Special transit phase
$10,000 per intersection

The costs for bus queue jumps and bypass lanes depend on the availability of existing roadway lanes and/or shoulders. The cost of a bus queue jump signal is estimated to range from $5,000 to $15,000, based on the type of detection deployed (loop vs. video, respectively).

Costs of curb extensions vary depending on the length and width of the treatment, site constraints, and the specific design of the curb extension. In San Francisco, for example, curb extensions cost $40,000 to $80,000 each.

The cost to deploy TSP on a BRT corridor depends on the configuration of the existing signal control system, intersection equipment/software costs, vehicle costs, and whether central control will be localized or integrated into a regional traffic management center (TMC). At intersections where existing controller equipment and software can be reused, upgrade costs are approximately $5,000. If the equipment needs to be replaced upgrade costs increase to approximately $20,000 to $30,000 per intersection.


Capital Cost (2004 dollars)
Typical Basic
$21,000 per station (1 direction)
$30,000 per station (1 direction)
$150,000 per station
$2.5 million per station
Intermodal center
$12.5 million per station
Passing lane
$2.7 million per lane-mile

Major cost drivers for BRT stations include the provision of station buildings and the cost of bus passing lanes. In some areas the cost of land acquisition can be reduced if railroad or freeway right-of-ways are available. Researchers noted, however, that such right-of-ways may generate little walk-on traffic, have limit opportunities for land development and require complex negotiations.


Capital Cost (2004 dollars)
On-boardMagnetic card media
$15,000 per vehicle
Smart media
$20,000 per vehicle
Off-boardMagnetic card media
$60,000 per machine
Smart media
$65,000 per machine

Fare collection can be conducted on vehicles and/or at stations depending upon agency policy, passenger movement, and station design. In the United States, most BRT systems use pay-on-board systems. The table below excerpted from Exhibit 4-127 of the report provides capital and maintenance costs data for several types of fare collection equipment and media. The costs vary depending on system requirements/specifications, quantity purchased, and the manufacturer.

Capital Cost Elements (Bus-Related Fixed Costs per Unit)
Mechanical fare box
Electronic registering fare box
Electronic registering fare box (with smart card reader)
Validating fare box (with magnetic card processing unit)
Validating fare box (with smart card reader)
Validating fare box (with magnetic & smart card reader)
Stand-alone smart card processing unit
Magnetic fare card processing unit (upgrade)
On-board probe equipment (may not be required integrated with regional system)
Garage probe equipment (may not be required if integrated with regional system)
Application software (smart card units)
Garage hardware/software
Central hardware/software
Payment Media Costs
Magnetic or capacitive cards
Contactless cards (plastic)
Contactless cards (paper)
Contact cards
Operation and Maintenance Costs
Spare parts (% of equipment cost)
Support services include training, documentation, revenue testing, and warranties (% of equipment cost)
Installation (% of equipment cost)
Nonrecurring engineering & software costs (% of equipment cost)
Contingency (% of equipment/operating cost)
Equipment maintenance costs (% of equipment cost)
Software licenses/system support (% of systems/software cost)
Revenue handling costs (% of annual cash revenue)
Clearinghouse (e.g., card distribution, revenue allocation) (% of annual automatic fare collection revenue). Note: cost may depend on the nature of the regional fare program, if any.


Capital Cost (2004 dollars)
At-station information
$6,000 per sign
On-board information
$4,000 per vehicle

Passenger information systems use AVL to track bus arrival times. On-board systems communicate next stop arrival information to customers using on-board monitors or audible announcements. At-station electronic information displays provide customers with bus status or arrival time information.


Transit Vehicle
Capital Cost (2004 dollars)
Conventional standard
$325,000 per vehicle
Stylized standard
$350,000 per vehicle
Conventional articulated
$570,000 per vehicle
Stylized articulated
$780,000 per vehicle
Specialized BRT
$1.3 million per vehicle

The cost of a conventional 40- to 45-foot partial low-floor bus ranges from $300,000 to $350,000. Hybrids will cost about $150,000 more per vehicle than a diesel powered bus.


Capital Cost (2004 dollars)
On-board vehicle guidanceOptical/magnetic sensors
$20,000 per mile
Hardware integration
$50,000 per vehicle
On-board precision dockingOptical/magnetic sensors
$4,000 per station
Hardware integration
$50,000 per vehicle
On-board performance monitoring
$2,000 per vehicle
Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)
$8,000 per vehicle
On-board security
$10,000 per vehicle

Driver assist and automation systems can be applied individually or collectively on a new BRT vehicle. Integration of on-board equipment can substantially increase the cost of a new vehicle.

AVL systems track the location of BRT vehicles and support other ITS, such as, TSP, automated passenger counter systems, dynamic routing, and demand management applications.

Costs for on-board safety and security components vary widely depending on the procurement strategy used and quantity of units purchased. Smaller agencies may experience increased costs due to limited economies of scale.

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TCRP Report 118: Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner's Guide

Author: Kittelson & Associates, in association with Herbert S. Levinson Transportation Consultants and DMJM-Harris

Published By: Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board

Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration

Source Date: 2007


System Cost

Hardware integration for on-board precision docking systems: $50,000 per vehicle.

Hardware integration for automated vehicle guidance: $50,000 per vehicle.

AVL systems: $8,000 per vehicle.

On-board smart card fare collection systems: $20,000 per vehicle.

On-board security systems: $10,000 per vehicle.

On-board passenger information systems: $4,000 per vehicle.

On-board performance monitoring systems: $2,000 per vehicle.


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CCTV, closed circuit television cameras, security, automated vehicle location, computer aided dispatch, automatic vehicle locator, AVL, CAD, AVL/CAD, smart cards, electronic fare payment, SmartCard, smart card, SmartCards, bus priority, traffic signals, TSP

Cost ID: 2008-00148