Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu Province and a major transportation hub in Northwest China, opened Asia’s second high-capacity Bus Rapid Transit system in December 2012. The system, which carries 290,000 passengers per day, is considered a “silver standard” by the BRT Standard Technical Committee, and is complemented by a large bike share system connecting the BRT corridor with the city center.
When ITDP first visited Lanzhou in February 2009 the city was largely focused on building utility tunnels and other roads. ITDP, together with the Guangzhou Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute (GMEDRI), and with the crucial support of the ADB, succeeded in transforming the project into one focused primarily on a high capacity, high quality BRT corridor through the heart of Lanzhou.
The 9-kilometer, 15-station, 7-route BRT corridor features several groundbreaking components that ITDP is already spreading to cities around the world. A new split-station concept allows for BRT buses traveling in the same direction to stop on both sides of a boarding platform, offering the same capacity with half the station length. The BRT also incorporated Transit Oriented Development concepts by using public-private partnerships to finance six underground shopping malls beneath the BRT stations. Furthermore, the BRT allows for modal integration, with double-tier bike parking racks and a bike share system along the BRT corridor.
Lanzhou’s residents report an increase in satisfaction with public transit, from 49% before the BRT to 73% after. In addition, ongoing impact analysis surveys indicate a significant increase in civic pride; a decrease in wait times and travel costs, improved perceptions of safety for passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and major improvements in perceptions of environmental quality and livability. This impressive reception, along with the wide array of innovations on display, make it easy to understand why other cities are already starting to emulate Lanzhou’s BRT.
Following ITDP’s promotion and subsequent planning and design over the last few years, Lanzhou launched a bike sharing system in June 2014. Within six months, the city expanded coverage to the BRT corridor, allowing easy tranfers between modes. The system, with over 300 stations and nearly 10,000 bikes, is spread through the Chengguan district (the city center), Qilihe district, and Anning district (the BRT corridor). Lanzhou hopes to expand the program to 900 stations, 20,000 bikes, and 24,000 docks in the coming years. ITDP will continue to provide technical guidance to Lanzhou as it begins to implement such a large scale bike share system.