Bus Rapid Transit: A Handbook for Partners

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Bus Rapid Transit: A Handbook for Partners


In April 2005, the Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation (DRI) asked MTI to assist with the research for and publication of a guidebook for use by Caltrans employees who work with local transit agencies and jurisdictions in planning, designing, and operating Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems that involve state facilities. The guidebook was also to assist to transit operators, local governments, community residents, and other stakeholders dealing with the development of BRT systems. Several areas in the state have experienced such projects ( San Diego , Los Angeles , San Francisco , and Alameda County ) and DRI wished to use that experience to guide future efforts and identify needed changes in statutes, policies, and other state concerns.

Caltrans convened a Task Team from the Divisions of Research and Innovation, Mass Transportation, and Operations, together with stakeholders representing many of those involved with the BRT activities around the state. Prior to MTI’s involvement, this group produced a white paper on the topic, a series of questions, and an outline of the guidebook that MTI was to write.

The MTI team conducted case studies of the major efforts in California, along with less developed studies of some of the other BRT programs under development or in early implementation phases around the state. The purpose was to clarify those issues that need to be addressed in the guidebook, as well as to compile information that would identify items needing legislative or regulatory action and items that Caltrans will need to address through district directives or other internal measures. A literature scan was used to develop a bibliography for future reference. The MTI team also developed a draft Caltrans director’s policy document, which provides the basis for Caltrans’ actions.

This ultimately developed to be a project within a project. MTI submitted a draft document to Caltrans as a final product from the Institute. Task team members and Caltrans staff and leadership provided extensive review of the draft Bus Rapid Transit: A Handbook for Partners. Caltrans adopted a new Director’s Policy and published the document, BRT Caltrans.

The MTI “wraparound” report presented below discusses in more detail the process that was followed to produce the draft report. The process was in many ways as much a project as the report itself.



George Gray is a transportation consultant and a retired employee of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). He has more than 55 years of experience in the transportation field. The first fifteen years were in highway planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations, including two years private sector design work in Vietnam. His subsequent work was in public transportation, transportation planning, administration, privatization (toll road development), environmental studies, and California-Baja California border issues for Caltrans. He spent four years as an advisor on public transportation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation. Mr. Gray is a Life Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and an emeritus member of the Transportation Research Board. He is coeditor with Dr. Lester A. Hoel of the textbook Public Transportation, is author of numerous transportation studies and reports, and has developed training and education programs in transportation. George Gray holds a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering from Stanford University, an Masters in Public Administration from California State University, San Diego (now San Diego State University), and an Masters of Engineering in transportation planning from the University of California, Davis.


Tom Larwin heads up Larwin Consulting in San Diego, California, and is former Chief Deputy Executive Director with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) where he served from 2003-2005. Before SANDAG, he worked for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB), joining MTDB in 1976 and serving as its General Manager from 1979-2003. From 1965-1976, Mr. Larwin was a Principal Associate with Barton-Aschman Associates, Inc. He also served two years as a Civil Engineer in the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. He earned his Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois and a Master of Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University (Bureau of Highway Traffic). Mr. Larwin is a Fellow of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and served three years on its Board of Direction. He is a registered civil engineer and traffic engineer in California, and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Emeritus Member of the TRB Committee on LRT, and served on TRB's Executive Committee for three years. He has written numerous articles on transportation matters, notably the chapter on "Urban Transit" in the ITE Transportation Planning Handbook.


Research Associate Norman Kelley holds a BS from the University of the State of New York, with postgraduate work at Pepperdine University. He has over 30 years of domestic and international executive experience, and was the Director of Transportation for the California Public Utilities Commission, and an Assistant Director at Caltrans.

August 2006
Bus rapid transit
Transit operating agencies
Light rail transit
Transit operators



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