Capital costs to implement ITS applications for bus rapid transit (BRT) can vary widely ranging from $100,000 to more than $1,000,000 per mile.

Costs of BRT ITS in the United States

February 2009
Nationwide; United States

Summary Information

This report describes the physical components, operational functions, and performance characteristics of bus rapid transit (BRT) services implemented in the United States and internationally over the last several years. As an update to the 2004 version of the CBRT report, this release provides additional information and data on the benefits and costs of incremental upgrades used to improve existing bus services and support project planning and alternatives analysis.

ITS for BRT can include a variety of applications including Transit Signal Priority, Intelligent Vehicle Systems, Operations Management Systems, Passenger Information Systems, Safety and Security Systems, and Electronic Fare Collection. The range of capital costs presented below from Table 4-7 of the source report show the varying degree to which ITS applications can be applied to BRT.

Las Vegas
BRT Line / System
Silver Line
Washington St
Silver Line Waterfront
Year of Opening
Length of Route (mi)
Total Capital Cost by Route
$27.29 M
$618 M
$23.5 M
$20.16 M
Running Way
$8.44 M
$572.2 M
$18 M for all design and construction
$0.04 M
$5.0 M
Included in
Running Way
$5.45 M
$13.85 M
$42.2 M
$6.5 M
$12.10 M
Included in $18 M
$0.57 M
ITS - Fare Collection
$2.00 M
$9.60 M

Los Angeles
San Jose
BRT Line / System
Orange Line
Metro Rapid
(All Routes)
EBus - Stockton
Rapid 521
Year of Opening
Length of Route (mi)
Total Capital Cost by Route
$318 M
$7.95 M
$3.5 M
Running Way
$180 M
$2.7 M
$40 M
$50,000 per station
$0.80 M
Minimal, used existing stops
$16 M
$350,000 per bus
$3.8 M
$130 K to wrap existing vehicles
$10 M
$100,000 per mile
$1.8 M
Included in other VTA projects
ITS - Fare Collection
$6 M
No extra investment needed
$66 M
$1.55 M
$550 K for planning and
project management

The cost of ITS applications for BRT can vary widely ranging from $100,000 to more than $1,000,000 per mile. The following issues were identified as cost drivers for successful implementation.

  • Transformation of Business Practices. Existing business practices may need to be modified to increase collaboration and facilitate data exchange between participating agencies. For example, a transit automatic vehicle location (AVL) system may be designed to provide location and schedule adherence information to dispatchers; however, it may also be cost-effective to provide this information to the public via the internet.
  • Requirements for Systems Integration. Installation of equipment on buses, at bus stops, and at agency facilities may necessitate modifications or upgrades to communication systems, installation of new software, and integration with other agencies or regional systems. In addition, the individual components may have to comply with specific standards, and systems engineering oversight may be needed to assure the integrated system satisfies requirements and meets the needs of stakeholders.
  • Data Communication Systems. Robust and reliable data communication systems may be needed for proper function. Advanced communications are required to connect vehicles with the roadside infrastructure and transit management centers. Data links must be reliable and utilities serviced.
  • Planning and Design Considerations. Infrastructure upgrades can impact project schedules and increase costs. For example, a transit signal priority (TSP) system may require that traffic signal control cabinets and controllers be upgraded or replaced to support an upgrade for advanced functions. In addition, the time required to design, build, and test new infrastructure may take 6 to 12 months.
  • Labor Requirements. ITS transit systems can have long term recurring costs. For example, real-time transit traveler information systems that display schedule information onboard buses and at bus stops must be updated regularly. Training is also an important recurring cost for any technology deployment.

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Characteristics of Bus Rapid Transit for Decision-Making (CBRT) 2009 Update

Author: Diaz, Roderick B. and Dennis Hinebaugh (National Bus Rapid Transit Institute)

Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Transit Administration

Source Date: February 2009

Other Reference Number: Report No. FTA-FL-26-7109.2009.1


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Cost ID: 2011-00234