An Analysis of Guangzhou BRT Project: Decision Making Process, Impacts and Appraisal

An Analysis of Guangzhou BRT Project: Decision Making Process, Impacts and Appraisal

1.0 Introduction

The ultimate objective of this research is assessing the decision making process, impacts and appraisal of the Guangzhou BRT. BRT encompass a system of buses with specialized infrastructure, design and services. The features help in eliminating delays associated with bus transit and improving quality. This research assessment will be aided by analyzing a variety of aspects that are associated with BRT development in the region. Among them is the decision making process that has been used by the relevant authority in the development. This is because decision making has several impacts on the extent to which BRT is executed, and its future prospects. Some of the impacts might be negative while some might be positive depending on the decision that was made. Reasons that necessitated the introduction of BRT systems in the first place will also need to be analyzed if an accurate assessment is to be delivered. A great deal of them must have been achieved for the system to meet the objective of the decision makers. If they have not been achieved, obstacles that have resulted to this will be analyzed in order to help get an idea of how to avoid them in the future. This will also help in developing a sustainable road-map that will be used by Guangzhou and other interested cities in future. There are other wider factors, some of which might be indirectly related to BRT decision making, but their impact is substantial. Having a close insight into these factors would help in getting a bigger picture of how things are unfolding. The factors might be far-fetched, but ignoring their relevance and extent of influence might render the research incomplete hence not reliable. The appraisal of the BRT is also relevant since it helps us to understand if the parties involved got it right. This is attained by analyzing both the direct and indirect factors used in the appraisal process.

After a decision is arrived at to develop a BRT system, there is a likely-hood that this system will result to several wider impacts. These wider impacts include agglomeration effects, economic growth, changes in market structure, rebalancing effects, urban form, business operations and locations, land use and property value among others. In most cases, these wider impacts take place in the positive direction. They occur in a manner that is likely to benefit the city that is involved. However, the wider impacts might also affect the city negatively. This depends on how the whole system has been established. If the relevant stakeholders failed in their decision making process, then the development of the BRT might not run smoothly (Sorensen, 2012).

These wider factors can be used in the appraisal of the BRT system. They can be used to assess whether the development has been effective or not. This will be based on whether the wider factors bring positive or negative effects to the city of development. The appraisal gives the relevant stakeholders an opportunity to identify what was not conducted in the most appropriate way. Various corrections might be made from the appraisal process.

Efficient BRT systems are required to have several features. These include but not limited to platform-level boarding, off-board fare collection, intersection treatment, bus-way alignment and dedicated lanes. Dedicated lanes ensure that the buses are not involved in delays which come as a result of mixed traffic congestion (Baeumler, 2012). Rights of way may be depressed or elevated by use of former rail routes. Off-board fare collection helps in avoiding delays that are associated with passengers paying while on board. Bus-way alignment helps to keep buses away from where trucks, cars and curbs are standing, parking or turning. Platform-level boarding on the other hand helps in easy and quick boarding, making it accessible for disabled passengers, baby strollers and wheelchairs with minimal delays (Baeumler, 2012).

When BRT was first introduced, it took time before it was accepted in various cities. However, things seem to have changed recently. This is because most cities have and are continuing to endorse the implementation of BRT systems. This includes cities based in both developed and developing countries. Success that has been achieved by other cities is the key driver of the systems’ adoption worldwide. The municipal governments are learning from their counter-parts and have seen the need for these systems. They have been involved in conducting appraisal processes in other cities that already have the BRT systems. Through the appraisals they consider the reasons why these cities established the BRTs in the first place. The appraisal is then extended to the wider impacts that have surfaced as a result of BRT development. Results derived from these appraisals give them the ability to decide on whether to implement BRT in their regions or not. Cities with high populations seem to be on the fore-front when it comes to the implementations of BRT. This is because there is need to reduce both congestion and pollution in these cities (Baeumler, 2012).  In the long-run, a fair ground for economic development and growth is enhanced. It becomes even more efficient if the relevant authority has the ability of combining BRT with other transit systems in the region. The advantages associated with BRT that include increased capacity, reduced congestion, flexibility and lower costs have played a major role in its adoption.

However there have been some concerns regarding BRT implementation. Among them is how BRT is going to be developed in connection with the other existing transit systems. This has caused conflict among the relevant stakeholders. Individuals using private means of transport are quite skeptic due to the fear of the unknown. They are not sure of what might befall them in future if this system continuous to gain popularity (Hidalgo & Carrigan, 2010). Another concern is that some cities have been designed in ways that make it difficult to develop the BRT system. This will necessitate the restructuring and redesigning of these cities. Several businesses will be destroyed or hampered in the process. This is not a sign of economic development, and there is no assurance that the establishment will help compensate the loss with the economic viability that it will bring along. Lack of will from various stakeholders is also an issue of concern in the BRT implementation process. This includes the municipal government, passengers and other road users. They might be opposed to the implementation, but they are not coming out publicly. Pretending that they are committed in seeing the process proceed in the best way possible becomes the order of the day. As a result, they tend to make decisions that are not favorable for the implementation of the system. This leads to various delays or poor functioning of the entire system (Hidalgo & Carrigan, 2010).

1.1 Research Background

Guangzhou is the capital city of Guangdong province which is located in mainland China. It is a key national trading port and transportation hub. It is the third largest city in China and the largest in Southern China. Guangzhou has come to be the first city that most travelers tend to visit when they come to mainland China. Some time back, the city exemplified ugly architecture, traffic-clogged streets and never ending flyovers. However, it has received a makeover in the recent times. Stodgy concrete apartments have now been instituted to give the city a new look. Various efforts to relieve the traffic congestion have in a clean environment, tougher traffic rules and modern metro systems (Fjellstrom, 2011). Bus Rapid Transit System has been the latest arrival in the city when it comes to the transportation sector.

Guangzhou BRT came into operation in February 2010. This was as a result of extensive design and planning process. The municipal government had to be involved in a decision making process before they came to a conclusion of delivering this project to the citizens. During the appraisal process a lot of things needed to be analyzed before a conclusion was made. Among them are the impacts that would result from the system both direct and indirect. Several stakeholders were involved in this realization. Among them are the municipal government engineering and research institutes. They were involved in sharing of knowledge and the technical know-how of executing the project. The professionals gave the government officials their views and left them to make the decision of whether to undertake the project or not. The city’s municipal government also played a vital role in ensuring that the project was executed in the best way possible. This was through the policies that they enacted and their corporation with other stakeholders. Guangzhou BRT has the largest passenger flow compared to other BRTs in Asia (Fjellstrom, 2011). It also has the highest bus flows all over the world, whereby every 10 seconds there is bus into the city during the morning rush hour.

The main reasons for introducing the BRT systems in Guangzhou are reducing pollution, congestion and increasing the capacity of road transport. Reduction of pollution and congestion would play a vital role in ensuring that economic development is enhanced. This is because there are reduced delays, which tend to act as an attraction to a variety of traders and other individuals using different transport systems. Other wider impacts have resulted from the development of the BRT. Among them is that Guangzhou has seen an increase in employment levels, the value of the land has gone up, living standards in the region have improved, more consumer services have been adopted, the image of the city has changed, various land use patterns have been developed among other things. These wider impacts can be used in the appraisal process of trying to find out how the development of BRT has been executed. Most of the impacts should affect the city positively for it to be considered effective.

Despite the milestones achieved so far, Guangzhou BRT implementation has been slow to develop based on the projections during its inception. The public perception has been among the key bottle-necks. There is conflict between the private transit operators and the municipal authority. The private operators think that they are being ignored by the authority since all attention seems to have shifted on the BRT systems. According to them, they have been given minimal lane capacity, and not attaining the right to streets of the city is oppressive. The media has also played its part by enhancing negative publicity regarding the BRT. People tend to be skeptical based on what they here, making their influence significant (Fredman, 2012).

The research will try to analyze the decision making process of Guangzhou BRT and its impacts. Impacts to be assessed encompass both direct and wider impacts such as land use, economic growth e.t.c. The wider factors will be included in the appraisal process in an attempt of trying to evaluate effectiveness of the BRT.

1.2 Research Questions

Key Question

  1. What has been the decision-making process for BRT, and what impacts has it had?


  1. What were the reasons for investing in BRT in Guangzhou City?
  2. What wider factors might be of significant impact from the project?
  3. How might these wider factors be included in the appraisal of BRT systems?

1.3 Research Aim

The aim of the research is analyzing the decision making process, impacts and appraisal process for BRT in Guangzhou city. This will be achieved by assessing the reasons for investing in the BRT. This will be coupled by having an insight to other wider factors that can be used in the appraisal process. Assessment of the stakeholders, and the role played by each one of them will also be critical in ascertaining the milestone that has been reached so far.

1.4 Research Objectives

  1. Conducting a thorough literature review on other studies that have been carried out by different researchers.
  2. Establishing an appropriate methodology to the study. This includes the methods of collecting and analyzing data and outlining the expected results.
  3. Developing the most appropriate interview questions with regard to the research topic.
  4. Completing the research on time and having a valid summary.
  5. The research shall also outline other important issues like the legal requirements and ethical issues among others.

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Factors Affecting BRT Decision Making Process

BRT decision making process is usually influenced by several factors. The process usually brings along various impacts in the region where the system has been instituted. Among the factors that influence the decision making process is the needs and wants of the public. The government usually need to assess what the public really desires during its decision making process. This helps in making the decision of its viability based on how people intend to use it. Through this process, the government can understand what people think about the system, and the improvements that they make on it so that it can gain acceptance. Introducing a system that people do not need might end to wastage of resources (Hidalgo & Pai 2009).

Availability of funds is also another factor that influences BRT decision making process. The project usually consumes a huge amount of money based on the activities that likely to take place. This ranges from the preparation, planning, design and construction among others. Various materials are required and employees are needed to run this processes. This will influence the decision making process in that the government must assess whether its sources of funds will be able to sustain this. There is no need of initiating a project whose completion is not foreseen (Gauthier & Weinstock, 2010). Insufficient funds would also result to development of inferior systems hence making the transport system worse than it was before.

Hidalgo & Pai (2009) assert that government motives are also critical during the BRT decision making process. In some instances, their motives are far-fetched, and are not entirely centered to cater for the welfare of the citizens. One reason that may prompt a government to develop a BRT is creating a favorable publicity. At this point, they are in dire need of the public to see that they are performing. Such a motive is likely to surface when the elections are around the corner. It is a way of brain washing the public into thinking that they have their best interest at heart.

Priority of establishing a BRT system will also play a major role in the decision making process. In some cities, BRT development might not be viewed as a priority based on other issues that are being experienced. A city might have a poor transport system that encourages congestion and pollution. At the same time, this city might be facing other issues such as food insecurity, poor health conditions and other social vices like prostitution, crime e.t.c. The BRT system can be used to improve the transport. However, making the decision to develop the system might not be the right idea from the government. This is because there are other issues that need to be addressed before such an issue is even considered. This means that the decision making process needs to consider other wider factors before deciding on the implementation. Not considering the priorities can result to chaos from public demonstrations, and make BRT look like an evil system, even in future when other public issues have already been dealt with (Gauthier & Weinstock, 2010).

The current state of the existing transport system also has an influence on the decision making process. In some cities, the traditional systems are working very effectively. They might not work with the same efficiency as BRT, but they have not yet reached at a point where they are inefficient. Replacing such systems would not be working towards economic development. It would be a way of hampering development since the funds have been used in areas where it was not necessary and the benefits that accrue are very minimal. The decision making process usually has to consider the extra benefits that come with a project.

 2.2 Positive Impacts of BRT

BRTs have several positive impacts both to the cities where they are instituted and to the individuals found in these cities. Among the positive impacts associated with BRT is enhancement of economic development. Economic development emanates from the fact that BRT implementation results to increased employment opportunities and reduced travelling cost. The employment aspect comes along during the construction, execution and maintenance of the project. Various contractors are sourced during the design and planning, while others are involved in the actual construction. Members of the public also get to be employed as drivers or fare collectors once the operation is initiated. There individuals tasked with maintenance, technological aspects, traffic control among others. Travelling costs reduction on its part helps individuals to save, and use the funds in other developmental projects (Banister, 2008). This shows that BRT systems can play a favorable role in enhancing economic development.

BRT systems also have the ability of enhancing better environmental aspects. This is enhanced by way of reduced congestion and pollution. Establishment of BRT ensures that the number of vehicles on the road tend to reduce. This is because many individuals that use private transit tend to adopt the usage of BRT due to its convenience. As a result, congestion on the road is reduced. Reduced congestion means that the levels of carbon emission in the atmosphere reduce drastically. In the long-run, the carbon footprint in the relevant city tends to reduce. This reduces air pollution and the prospect of global warming (Banister, 2008).

On the side of the passengers, Wright (2003) asserts that BRT ensures there is fast, safe and comfortable travel. Fast travel comes from the fact that BRT buses usually follow a timetable that allows high frequency. This means that the buses will usually be available when they are needed. Being reliable and punctual helps in saving passengers time. Safety is enhanced by availability of CCTV at the waiting stations. There are individuals tasked with the responsibility of monitoring them hence have the ability of spotting any malpractice. Drivers employed are usually professionals since they must attain various thresholds before gaining employment. This means that passengers’ lives are on safe hands (Wright, 2003). The modern buses are also fitted with air conditioning and up to date seats hence ensuring that passengers are quite comfortable. This aspect plays a vital role in convincing individuals using private transit to adopt the usage of BRT.

 2.3 Bus Rapid Transit in China

BRT in China was first introduced in the city of Kunming in 1999. It later on came to spread in Beijing in the year 2004. Ever since, it has experienced a rapid growth in the country (Baeumler, 2012). So far, it has not yet received much worldwide attention like underground rail systems, but its acceptance and implementation is impressive. BRT’s growth in the country spearheads various future opportunities for improving overall quality for sustainable transport in the country. The country’s large and growing population makes BRT a favorable transport system since it has the ability of reducing both congestion and pollution. This develops a favorable ground for various economic activities to be conducted with delays. However, effectiveness in planning and design is prevalent if desirable systems are to be developed.

According to Baeumler (2012) BRT systems have spread across various regions in china. Initially, most of these systems had been concentrated along the coastal region. This aspect has changed with time since BRT has been embraced in the western region of the country, in Urumqi, Yinchuan and Lanzhou. Most BRT systems have been established in third and second-tier municipalities with populations not exceeding 5 million. BRT is established as a backbone transit mode since the cities do not harbor urban rail systems. Most of these systems contain one or two corridors that average 45 kilometers in length. Despite this, they have had the opportunity of showcasing their ability of playing a vital role in public transit. In Changzhou for example, BRT accounts for 25% of passenger trips in the city using public transport (Fredman, 2012). This has been enhanced by ease of accessibility to many city commuters and residents. Recently, it is being regarded among the most successful BRT systems in the country.

However, BRT implementation in China has also had its fair share of challenges. The main challenges include integration of BRT with other transit systems and the debate on the right-of-way in the city. There are doubts among the car owners who believe that they should be the ones owning the right-of-way in various cities in the country. This has resulted to conflict between the private and the public transport stakeholders. Some of these conflicts are only mitigated when the residents see the systems operate conveniently. Efficient operation works as an indication that the future is bright for the usage of BRT.

Fjellstrom (2010) asserts that BRT systems might be working fairly well in China, but municipal governments and other relevant stakeholders could maximize their impact by enhancing an efficient integration with other transport modes. This include traditional buses, subways and non-motorized transport systems. Moreover, BRT’s future prospect in China seems bright. The rapid growth it is enjoying is likely to continue for the forthcoming years. Around 100-km BRT systems are under planning. In future, it will play a supplementary role to rail and metro systems in most cities, as seen in Guangzhou and Beijing.

2.4 BRT Appraisal

Before a decision is made on whether to implement a BRT system, an appraisal process must be undertaken. This process helps in ascertaining whether the project is worth taking. This is based on the impacts it will have on the relevant city. The benefits ought to out-weigh the shortcomings. Appraisals are also conducted after the development of BRT in order to ascertain the effectiveness of the system.

For BRT appraisal, some issues need to be considered. Among them is the economic viability of the system. The transport infrastructure is associated with several businesses. An effective BRT should have the ability of improving these businesses. It should have the ability of reducing cost on the side of the passengers. Cost reduction would ensure that the money saved is used in other developmental projects. Creation of employment also needs to be ensured. It is through employment that people derive their income, which is used for improving the living standards and sustainability. A BRT system that is not likely to enhance such conditions is not worth undertaking (Fjellstrom, 2011).

An efficient and effective BRT should also have the ability of reducing congestion and pollution. Congestion will only reduce if the public is convinced that this is the right way to go. This is because they would reduce the usage of private transport in favor of the public transit. Reduction of the number of vehicles in the road, in turn results to reduction of both noise and air pollution. Air pollution is mitigated since the amount of carbon emissions reduce significantly.

Fjellstrom (2011) asserts that the possibility of integrating BRT with other transport systems is also critical during the appraisal process. Definitely, BRT will not cover all regions in the city. For this reason, it should have the ability of integrating with other systems like the rail and air transport. Efficient integration brings convenience to users that prefer utilizing more than one system due to the nature of their activities. Its ability to accommodate the private car owners and cyclist would also improve its stakes of being accepted.

Geographical alignment of a city needs to be considered too in the appraisal process. Some cities have been designed in a way that is not likely to accommodate BRT systems. This might be in terms of land terrain and other structures developed within. It might lead to destruction of business premises and residential homes. The government is likely to compensate them, but the viability of this should be assessed. The long-term benefits should be way high compared to the costs incurred (Hidalgo & Pai 2009). If this criterion is not met, there is no need of developing the system.

Travel time and security associated with BRT could also help in assessing its performance if it was to be developed. Safety and security is dependent on the type of buses that will be used during the ridership. The nature of the stations and roads will also play a vital role. They need to be fitted with vehicle component monitoring systems and CCTVs. The personnel employed to undertake various tasks should be competent in the designated areas. More so the drivers involved in driving the buses. Reduced travel time is used as a way of measuring reliability.

Availability of the desired technology should also be considered. Various technological advancement levels need to be availed in order for the project to be initiated. It is necessary that some of these technologies are available locally. This way it becomes cheaper to implement the project once the decision has been reached (Fjellstrom, 2011). Outsourcing technology could make the project entirely expensive hence hindering its viability.

Financial availability also needs to be considered during the appraisal process. Its only presence of sufficient funds that will ensure a favorable and efficient system has been established. Not having sufficient funds to execute the project would also lead to unwarranted debts for the country involved. This is because it hinders development to some extent since debts are usually subject to some conditions from the institutions offering them.

2.5 Barriers to BRT Decision Making Process

Since the inception of BRT systems, various bottle-necks have surfaced, and have played a huge role in hindering the decision making process of the system. Political will has been the major barrier to the decision making process of BRT. This is among the most significant ingredients that are necessary for a BRT system to be established efficiently. Within the political circle, there are certain individuals with special interests and others with general inertia towards change. Various lobby groups such as automobile and rail operators also have the ability of making powerful political arguments in an attempt to oppose the implementation of BRT. The interest that every group, which is politically connected has, hinders their ability to view the bigger picture regarding the project. They are concerned with what they will gain personally if the project was to be executed (Wright, 2010). It even becomes more complex if the interests of one group conflict with that of the other group. This tends to hinder government operators from issuing a go ahead with the project. If every political stakeholder was willing to implementation of BRT, everything would flow effectively. All the decisions made would aim at propelling the project, but not derailing it.

Existing transit operators have also proved to be a major stumbling block in BRT decision making process. This is because the relevant government needs to consider them while making their decisions. There is the need of them being on the same page in order for the project to sail smoothly. They tend to be skeptical of any systems being introduced, and are likely to have a ramification on their viability and profitability. In a city like Quito, found in Ecuador, transit operators have been involved in violent demonstrations in an attempt to prevent implementation of BRT. In some cities, the operators are pressuring political through lobbying efforts. Some of the issues that are raised by these operators are just hypothetical and their occurrence is not known to certainty (Hidalgo & Carrigan, 2010). The benefits associated with BRT are not given any consideration during their arguments. Lack of knowledge on their side triggers this form of opposition. It is upon the relevant stakeholders to educate the operators on how they stand to benefit once these projects are initiated.

Geographical limitations are also viewed as valid and eminent bottle-necks to BRT decision making process. Some cities have been structured in such a way that the roads that originally existed cannot be expanded any further. Expansion of these roads may lead to destruction of people’s property something which might not go well with the residents. It also goes against the initiative of enhancing economic development in affected cities. This is because there is no assurance that the cost involved in restricting the city will be worthwhile in future once the BRTs start to operate. This limitation leads to implementation of BRT systems that are not efficient. The buses tend to use similar lanes with other existing operators hence making the whole process even more chaotic (Hidalgo & Carrigan, 2010). This gives municipal governments a dilemma on whether to sanction the initiation of the project or not.

Technical capacity and lack of information also play a huge role in the decision making process of BRT. If not adequately available, they can be a very huge barrier to the implementation process. Technical capacity ensures that there is availability of individuals with the technical know-how of how the system should be developed. This starts from the planning process, design and execution. When the technical capacity is quite low, the end product tends to be of poor quality. Instead of bringing the intended benefits to the city, it will result to more shortcomings compared to the previous systems (Wright, 2010). Lack of information on its part affects all the stakeholders. This includes the developers and other individuals intended to benefit from the implementation. When people do not have sufficient information regarding the project, conflict is likely to arise. The level of resistance will be high due to the fear of the unknown. This prospect makes the two aspects very critical during the decision making process. The relevant stakeholders involved have to ensure that they are in place before they approve the project.

Financial aspects also act as barriers in most developing countries. Most of these countries are used to borrowing in order to implement such projects. However, it does not make sense to them borrowing funds in order to implement BRT while there are other projects whose importance supersedes BRT systems. Making the decision to implement these systems does not seem viable to the government (Gauthier & Weinstock, 2010).

2.6 Wider Impacts Associated with BRT Development

Development of BRT results in several wider impacts. Some of these impacts are directly related to the BRT while some are indirectly related. Among these impacts are the agglomeration effects. Development of BRT results to agglomeration economies whereby firms involved in a similar industry tend to cluster within the region involved. This is triggered by the improved transport system in the region. When firms cluster together, their costs of production tend to decline. This is because the cluster attracts more suppliers and consumers in the same region. This tends to reduce some transport expenses hence reducing the general costs of production. There is access to the concentrated shared resources like centers of research and knowledge, physical infrastructure, intangible goods such as information among others (Sorensen, 2012).

Another wider impact resulting from BRT development is change in the value of land and property. Sorensen (2012) asserts that instituting BRTs tend to attract many investors who want to conduct business in the region due to improved transport systems. As a result, the land and other properties in the area have a high demand. Since their supply is inelastic, their prices tend to rise rapidly. As a result, low and middle wage income earners cannot afford. This creates a favorable opportunity for external investors with the desired funds to come in. In order to avoid such instances where the locals are being exploited by external individuals with more funds, several governments prefer to put the land in trust when such a project is being developed.

Business operations and locations are also affected by the development of BRT. The numbers of businesses tend to increase. This is because investors usually have the notion that improvements in transport systems would result to various forms of development. More businesses are located in the terminus of the BRT. These are the regions where the busses load and off-load. They are usually considered as convenient points for consumers of various goods and services.  Most suppliers are also intrigued to set up their businesses in these regions due to the occurrence of agglomeration economies. This way, they are able to serve most of their clients without having to travel long distances. It reduces the transport cost hence increasing the profit (Gauthier & Weinstock, 2010).

Changes in the labor market also act as wider impacts brought about by BRT. Its development results to increased employment opportunities in the relevant region. The increased opportunities are both direct and indirect. There is need to employ individuals responsible with maintaining the BRT system, driving buses, directing traffic e.t.c. Other employment opportunities arise as a result of other business premises being established in the region. This results to increased labor demand in the market. Gauthier & Weinstock  (2010) postulate that if the supply does not meet the new demand levels, there is a possibility of change in wages being offered. It becomes difficult for employers to exploit employees since they have several options at their disposal. Businesses also tend to compete for the most competent and adequate employees. Offering higher wages becomes the order of the day with the aim of outdoing the competitors. As a result, various aspects of the labor market tend to change in the positive direction on the side of employees.

BRT development also results to the growth of consumer services such as tourism and sporting activities. For the tourism aspect, some individuals will come to experience what it is all about to live in a region that has a BRT system. Others will be intrigued if they will have to pass through the city on their way to other tourist attraction sites. Sporting activities will also become common as the population grows and the economy thrives. This will be a way for business investors to keep the fanatics of various sporting activities happy while they make profits at the same time (Sorensen, 2012).

The image of the city also tends to change with the establishment of BRT systems. The current buildings tend to be modern. Individuals who had established their buildings before also end up doing some renovations. This is done with the aim of creating uniformity with the existing environment. The quality of the buildings is expected to match that of the transport system being used.

3.0 Methodology

3.1 Research and Data Collection Methods

3.1.1 Research Methods

The research uses a philosophical paradigm, which focuses on positivist research. That is the empirical testing by use of both inductive and deductive hypotheses. Three methods are used for the research process. They include case studies, observation and surveys. Observation involves having an observation of how individuals are behaving and the general functioning of the system. Survey on its part encompasses use of interviews for collection of data.

3.1.2 Data Collection Methods

The research uses both primary and secondary data collection methods. Primary data collection emanates from observation and interviews that was conducted towards various respondents. Observation focuses on a wider array of issues that are involved with Guangzhou BRT. This includes how individuals behave and the systems involved. This tries to analyze an interconnection between the individuals and the systems being used. Interviews on the other hand, entail a total of 20 questions. A number of respondents have been involved in the process. Among these respondents there are 10 different stakeholders.

Secondary data collection is conducted from other researches that have been conducted before regarding this topic. This entails having an insight at various publications like journals, websites, books and magazines among others. The literature derived through this process will help in making various conclusions.







3.2 Interview Questions

  1. What were the major reasons for investing in BRT?
  2. From the reasons provided for investing in BRT, which do you think shaped the decision making process more?
  3. Do you think the government got it right by making the decision to institute BRT in light of other issues facing the city?
  4. Based on what has been achieved by the BRT so far, would you say the decision making process was efficient? Why?
  5. Has the BRT reduced congestion on the roads?
  6. Given the chance, what would you do that was not done?
  7. What wider factors have emanated from the project?
  8. What has been the impact of these wider factors?
  9. How has the value of land and property been affected?
  10. What is the current situation of the labor market?
  11. Which agglomeration effects have resulted from the development of BRT?
  12. How would you describe the current land use and development patterns?
  13. How has the BRT affected the cycling patterns?
  14. How is the current appraisal system?
  15. Does the appraisal process take wider factors into consideration? How or why?
  16. What kinds of factors are taken into account during the appraisal process?
  17. How many wider factors do you think should be considered during appraisal process?
  18. Which wider factor would you consider more during the appraisal process?
  19. Is the BRT compatible with other transport system?
  20. How would you use economic growth and employment to appraise the BRT?

3.3 Conducting the Interviews

When it came to conducting the interviews, I visited Guangzhou city so that I can gather the necessary information. Several stakeholders were interviewed in the process. The research aimed at incorporating a wide variety of people as possible. This meant obtaining the most appropriate information since aspects of bias were eliminated. A total of 10 different stakeholders were interviewed. Among the stakeholders that will be interviewed include car owners, passengers, municipal government officials, area residents, business owners, general BRT employees, developers, research institutions and academics. The interview included a total of 70 respondents. A total of 20 questions were developed to help in this process. These questions were served on face to face or telephone basis depending on the availability of the respondents.

The respondents involved had an average of 25-30 minutes to answer their relevant questions. However, some extended this time. A respondent was not required to answer all the questions. They only answered those questions that are relevant to them based on the role that they play. The research aimed at clearly outlining its purpose to the respondents before any interview commenced. This ensured that all the information they provided was appropriate and relevant for the research.

3.4 Ethical Considerations  

Some ethical considerations during the research included collection of faulty data. This entails data that is not representative of the population sample. It was avoided by using the appropriate methodology that involved appropriate data collection methods and appropriate sample population. Appropriate respondents were involved in the interview process too.

Another ethical issue that might have aroused from the research is deception. It usually occurs when a researcher misrepresents facts so that they can be in accordance to her hypothesis. This was prevented by revisiting the hypothesis instead of manipulating results (Kothari, 2009).

Is there any foreseeable risk that might accrue to respondents; be it social, mental or physical due to participation on the research? The answer is no since the tools used (interviews) did not present any risk, and neither did the process itself.

Another ethical consideration that was relevant to this research was deceiving respondents the objectives of the research in order to influence their participation. This did not happen because it might even result to generation of undesired information.

3.5 Research Limitations

Despite conducting a successful research, there were some limitations along the way. They included:

  1. Some respondents did not have sufficient knowledge about the BRT hence did not have the ability of giving answers to some interview questions.
  2. Information was collected from the individuals living in the urban areas since I did not penetrate the outskirts of the city.
  3. While doing the analysis I assumed that the data collected from the respondents and other materials was accurate.
  4. From the sample population used, maybe the results would have been different if the research entailed different people from the ones that I interviewed.


  • Data Analysis and Interpretation

This is entails an analysis of the interview questions used for the research.

1.What were the major reasons for investing in BRT?

Data from this question was obtained from both the interview respondents and other relevant literature sources. Several reasons were cited by the respondents, but I narrowed them to 3, which were being given more weight by the respondents and the literature available. From the research, the major reasons for investing in BRT are reducing congestion, pollution and increasing capacity.

China has the highest population in the world. Recently, the economic development of the country is growing favorably. What this means is that there are many people with the ability of making favorable income hence have the ability of purchasing their own vehicles. Based on the country’s population, this aspect had been causing a lot of congestion in Guangzhou city. This led the municipal government to make the decision of investing in BRT. Features associated with the system were meant to be attractive to most passengers hence would attract them to use the public transit and minimize usage of private transport. This was meant to reduce congestion on the roads hence reduce the number of time that people used while travelling.

On matters regarding pollution, Guangzhou municipal government believed that establishment of BRT would help reduce 84,000 tons of CO2 emission per year, in the first 10 years of its operation. This would help reduce pollution since emission of green house gases has reduced. The aspect helps in fighting against climate change. BRT implementation was also expected to reduce 14 tons of particulate matter emissions, which are responsible for respiratory illness. This prospect would help in improving the life expectancy of the people leaving in Guangzhou.

When it comes to capacity, the government was aiming at bringing buses with an ability of transporting as many passengers as possible in a single trip. The target was to develop the largest bus ridership corridor in Asia. The BRT was expected to carry more passengers per hour than any other metro line found in mainland China. This would help in reducing the number of vehicles in the road hence reducing congestion and CO2 emission.

2.From the reasons provided for investing in BRT, which do you think shaped the decision making process more?

Table 1

Reason Shaping Decision Making More

Response % of Respondents
Pollution 31%
Congestion 44%
Capacity 15%
Not Sure 10%
Total 100%


Chart 1

Source: Developed Based on Interview data

Data on this question was obtained from the interview respondents who entailed almost all the participants to the interview process. It was apparent that they had contrasting opinions, but 44% of the respondents seemed to believe that the attempt to reduce congestion was the key reason the government invested in the BRT. 10% of these respondents were not sure which reason carried more weight. However, most of the respondents were of the view that the city’s large population made the implementation of the BRT desirable based on various activities being conducted.

3.Do you think the government got it right by making the decision to institute BRT in light of other issues facing the city?

Table 2

Response % of Respondents
Yes 73%
No 15%
Not Sure 12%
Total 100%


Chart 2

Source: Developed based on Interview data

73% of the respondents think that the government was right to make the decision of implementing the BRT, 15% think no, while 12% are not sure. I noted that most people who thought that the government was not right (15%) were private car owners. They did not raise other issues that they think should have been given priority though. Most people who thought that the government was right argued that the city was facing a population crisis. For this reason, the BRT was a favorable system to limit pollution and congestion in the region.

  1. Has the BRT reduced congestion on the roads?

Table 3

Response % of Respondents
Yes 89%
No 11%
Not Sure 0%
Total 100%


Chart 3

Source: Developed based on Interview data

Every respondent seemed sure on this. All the passengers and traffic personnel were of the opinion that congestion has reduced immensely with introduction of BRT. They argue that they are now spending minimal time on the road than they used to before.

5.Given the chance, what would you do that was not done?

This question was directed to all the respondents involved in the interview apart from the municipal government officials and the developers.  Most of the respondents did not have any ideas on their mind. However, there were two issues that seemed to arise from the individuals that responded to the question. Some of them thought that the government ought to include the public during the decision making process. They think that the public would be efficient when appraising various processes since they are directly affected hence have the ability of coming up with appropriate conclusions during the decision making process. The other issue was educating the public adequately of other wider impacts likely to emanate from such a project. They argued that this would help them in taking advantage of the occurrences and maybe preparing for the negative externalities.

  1. What wider factors have emanated from the project?

Most information from this question was derived from existing literature and some respondents who had assessed the system in depth. From the research, the wider factors associated with Guangzhou BRT development include economic growth, changes in land use and development patterns, agglomeration effects, changes in land and property value, increase in population, changes in the labor market, increased business ventures in the city, change in the city’s image among others.

  1. What has been the impact of these wider factors?

Most interview respondents had not studied the wider factors in depth hence were not very helpful in finding this information. I searched most of the information from various internet sources. It is apparent that these wider factors have both negative and positive impacts on the city. The positive impacts include the fact that BRT establishment has resulted to increased employment in the region. This has helped many people improve their living standards. Another positive impact is that the available resources are being used to the optimal. Development in the region has begun to intensify since the land usage has changed. Most of the land in the region was previously used for housing purposes. However, more land is now being used for industrial and commercial purposes. This is due to the economic prospect that this city has gained. On the negative side, the population in the region is growing as a result of migration. People are migrating from other cities in order to have the chance of gaining employment and access to other amenities in the region. This might lead to a population crisis in future. The value of the land in the region has also gone up hence making it difficult for low and medium income earners to purchase. This has paved way for other external investors to settle at the expense of the locals.

  1. How has the value of land and property been affected?

Respondents from the interviews seem to have similar sentiments on this issue. They are of the view that the value of land and other properties in the region has risen rapidly. They cite the establishment of BRT as the main cause. This is because it has attracted numerous people due to the improved standards. Some people are settling as residents while others are coming in to establish various businesses. The demand of land and other properties has gone up as a result hence leading to a rise in price since the supply is limited.

  1. What is the current situation of the labor market?

90% of the respondents think that labor market has improved. Employment opportunities have increased since the BRT system needs people to take care of it. Over 7 bus companies are involved in providing the BRT services. These companies need drivers, mechanics e.t.c. in order to run smoothly. There are also around 26 BRT stations in the region. These are designated areas for people to start their own businesses since the prospect of capturing customers is high. Several business ventures are also being set up hence creating opportunity for the labor force to attain employment. However, there are fears from some respondents that this situation will attract many people through immigration, and the situation will come back to how it was previously.

  1. Which agglomeration effects have resulted from the development of BRT?

Respondents did not have much to say regarding this question hence I relied more on other secondary sources. Agglomeration effects resulting from BRT development entail firms within the same industry clustering together in order to benefit from the development being experienced in the region. These benefits include an efficient transport system, economic potent population/consumers and potential of the city’s economy to grow among others. In the long-run, this results to increased employment opportunities and population growth. Firms involved also have the ability of coming together and devising cheaper and safer ways of disposing their waste.

  1. How would you describe the current land use and development patterns?

Almost 70% of the respondents think that the land use and development patterns in the region are changing. They argue that there has been shifts in developing residential areas since people now seem to be investing in commercial and industrial hubs.  There is a possibility that with time, most residential areas will be located in the metropolitan region. This would mean more industrialization hence increased pollution in the urban region.

  1. How has the BRT affected the cycling patterns?

All the respondents that answered the question thought that BRT implementation has boosted the usage of bicycles as a means of transport in the region. This is because the system encompasses bike sharing lanes, and parking areas around the stations. Increased cycling reduces emission of CO2 in the atmosphere hence helps in mitigating pollution. It is also a good way for people to keep fit. It improves their health prospects.

  1. How is the current appraisal system?

This question was only directed to two municipal government officials available for the interviews. The reason for asking municipal officials only is because they are the only ones that know what is usually considered for assessment. From their information, it is apparent that the appraisal system for the BRT is not clearly outlined. Emphasis is given on analyzing whether the primary reasons for implementing the system have been achieved.

  1. Does the appraisal process take wider factors into consideration?

The two municipal officials were of the opinion that wider factors are not given much attention during the appraisal process compared to the immediate reasons that necessitated its development. However, they mentioned that two wider factors that were being used more are the concept of economic growth and employment creation. This is because economic growth measures the general well being of a region, and encompasses many factors. Employment on the other hand is considered since the city has a large population hence any project devised by the government should have the ability of creating employment.

  1. What kinds of factors are taken into account during the appraisal process?

Type of factors included in the appraisal process entail the assessment of whether the system has been able to reduce congestion on the roads. This is done by assessing various road transport patterns. Measuring the levels of CO2 emanating from road transport is also viewed as an important factor since it signals reduction of pollution. Increase or decrease in number of people using public transit is also used for the appraisal since it tells whether the system is appealing to people or not. Convenience that the system brings to passengers in terms of time of travel and cost is used in order to identify if there is need for various changes. The ability of the system to enhance employment opportunities whether directly or indirectly is also given consideration during the appraisal system. This is because it is an important factor for economic development to be realized.

  1. How many wider factors do you think should be considered during appraisal process?

This question was directed to all the respondents that took part in the interviews. They did not have a specific number, but from what most were saying as many wider factors as possible should be used. Most of the wider factors used should have a direct or indirect impact to the city and the public. There was a particular private car owner who thought the government only analyses positive impacts brought by a wider impact, and fail to outline the negative impacts. According to her, this provides misleading information. When assessing any factor during the appraisal process both the negative and positive impacts should be considered.

  1. Which wider factor would you consider more during the appraisal process?

There were varied answers to this question. However, almost 40% of the respondents said economic development, while almost 20% thought of creating employment opportunities. Individuals routing for economic development argued that this wider factor involved a lot of things in it ranging from improved living standards to income levels. I also noted that most of the people that thought creating employment opportunities should be considered more were young individuals. This shows that people want things that affect them more to be considered.

  1. Is the BRT compatible with other transport system?

This question was directed to passengers who utilized more than one transport system among the interview respondents. I viewed its ability to integrate with other transport systems as a wider factor. Passengers that use both the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and the BRT thought the two systems were compatible. This is because moving from and to the airport has been made efficient since the BRT was adopted. Minimal time is involved and reduced interruptions since congestion in the roads has been reduced. For the passengers who also use the Guangzhou metro subway, it helps them reduce the transfer time. This is because BRT stations are connected to the subway through tunnels.

  1. How would you use economic growth and employment to appraise the BRT?

I decided to use existing literature to find information for this question since the respondents were giving indefinite answers. Economic growth can be used to appraise the BRT based on the value that the system has brought to the city. Has the system increased services with monetary value? How is attracted more business enterprises? Are more goods being produced as a result? How has the value of property been affected? This are just some of the questions that can be considered when assessing how economic growth can be used to appraise BRT. If the answers to these questions are positive then BRT will be considered as a success. There might be negative effects, but the positive ones need to outweigh them. On employment it would entail assessing the number of direct and indirect opportunities created as a result of BRT development.

5.0 Discussion

This discussion considers the three research sub-questions involved in the dissertation. Information obtained from the interview respondents and other source is used for analysis.

Question 1

What were the reasons for investing in BRT in Guangzhou City?

From the information gathered, there are several reasons why the decision to develop the BRT was made. However, three major reasons can be derived and they entail reduction of congestion, pollution and increase of capacity. Reduction of pollution is paramount in the city due to increased population and improved living standards people have the ability of buying their own cars hence increasing levels of Co2 emission.

From the interviews though, more respondents thought that reducing congestion was the main reason that spearheaded the decision to develop the BRT. 44% of the respondents were of this opinion. Nonetheless, 73% of the respondents believe that the government made the right decision in investing on the BRT in light of other issues in the city. This is because they think the population is increasing rapidly and as a result the transport system needs to be efficient for there to be order in the city.

89% of the respondents also believe that the BRT has reduced congestion in the region. However, there are things that the respondents think that the municipal government failed to do. Among them is involvement of the public during the decision making process, and educating the public on the wider factors likely to accrue. This would have helped the locals to take more advantage of the positive impacts resulting from the wider factors.

Question 2

What wider factors might be of significant impact from the project?

Several wider factors associated with the BRT were identified. They include economic growth, changes in land use and development patterns, agglomeration effects, changes in land and property value, increase in population, changes in the labor market, increased business ventures in the city, change in the city’s image and compatibility of BRT with other transport systems among others.

These wider factors come along with both positive and negative impacts in the city. For instance, the value of land and property has increased. Increased population in the region has increased its demand and since the supply is fixed, the prices have gone up. This is a negative impact for locals earning low and medium wages. Affording land and other properties in the region will be a problem for them. Land use patterns are also changing whereby more land in the urban region is being used for industrial and commercial purposes as opposed to residential purposes. This will increase industrialization in the region, which will increase carbon emissions that are a catalyst to global warming. However, when it comes to the labor market, there are positive impacts since the BRT has resulted to creation of employment opportunities both directly and indirectly. Indirect opportunities emanate from various businesses being established as a result of BRT implementation. Cycling has also being enhanced due to availability of bike lanes and parking space at the station. This helps in reduction of carbon emission for the people using them, and also acts as a fitness tool for improving health conditions.

Question 3

How might these wider factors be included in the appraisal of BRT systems?

From the information derived from the two municipal officials during the interviews, it is apparent that direct factors are considered more during the appraisal process compared to wider factors. The wider factors that are normally considered are economic growth and employment creation. This is because the government considers them to be directly related to the public’s well being.

The respondents were of the opinion that as many as possible wider factors should be considered during the appraisal process. These wider factors should have the ability of influencing people’s lives either positively or negatively for them to be considered. Most of them viewed economic development and employment among the wider factors that should be considered more.

Wider factors can be included in the appraisal of BRT in several ways. For example, an assessment of how the BRT is compatible with other transport systems can used to identify whether it is effective or not. In this case, passengers using the Guangzhou metro subway and the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport think that the systems are compatible. This is due to the convenience it brings. This information can be used to conclude that the BRT is efficient. Other wider factors like economic growth and employment can be used to appraise the BRT. Under economic growth, the BRT must have contributed to increase in value of goods and services in the region for it to be considered a success. Its ability to increase employment opportunities will also determine whether it is operating effectively or not.




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