Not only are bus rapid transit (BRT) systems the better option for transport in countries like South Africa, it is the only solution for mass transport in such countries, Institute for Transport and Development Policy president Enrique Penalosa said on Tuesday.

BRT systems are cheaper to implement and operate than rail infrastructure and had a bigger capacity to transport more people.

Penalosa, who travelled on the Rea Vaya system on Tuesday, commended the City of Johannesburg and South Africa for implementing world-class infrastructure and said that the BRT system would serve as an example for the rest of Africa.

He noted that the African continent needed to be shown that such systems could be successfully implemented as this would also be the best transport system for Africa.

While BRT systems were better than rail, he noted that few countries were implementing a BRT systems as these were politically and operationally difficult to implement.

Nevertheless, more BRT systems would be required in South Africa and Africa as traffic continued to increase. Peñalosa emphasised that simply widening roads was not the only solution to any country’s traffic congestion problem.

Johannesburg launched the 25-km BRT starter service, running from Lakeview station in Soweto, to Ellis Park station, at the end of August. The full phase 1A will be implemented by January 2010.

Peñalosa is the former mayor of Bogota and was the mayor at the time that the BRT system was implemented there.