The Brisbane City Council is facing growing calls to rebrand the new electric by-articulated bus system to something that doesn’t symbolise a traditional mass transit rail project.
When people think of a metro, they think of the Sydney Metro, London’s famous Underground, Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) or Hong Kong’s MTR (Mass Transit Railway).
When international or domestic visitors come to Brisbane and discover that we refer to a Metro as a “banana bus,” it could potentially lead to international embarrassment, especially in the lead up to the 2032 Olympics.
Initially proposed in 2016, the Brisbane Metro was envisioned as a genuine underground metro system, drawing inspiration from the rubber-tyre lines of the Paris Metro.
If implemented along the existing busways, the original proposal would have completely taken over the South Eastern and Northern Busways. However, after transport modelling revealed suburban routes using the busways would be required to terminate at each metro station, rather than running full journeys, and in order to prevent capacity loss, the original plan was changed to what we have now.
The Brisbane Metro fleet of 60 bi-articulated electric buses, manufactured by HESS holds 150 passengers comfortably and 170 passengers in event mode. The Gold Coast’s GLink tram Flexity 2, by Bombardier holds almost double with 309 passengers.
In stark contrast, the Sydney Metro employs Alstom’s state-of-the-art automated Metropolis rolling stock, capable of accommodating a whopping 1,100 passengers in its 6-car configuration. This is unquestionably a metro system, vastly different from a 170-passenger bus.
It’s regrettable that the Brisbane City Council persists in using an outdated name for a project that has clearly evolved beyond its original metro concept, and this inconsistency is increasingly embarrassing.
For all intents and purposes, the Brisbane Metro project now represents an ingenious approach to enhancing the capacity of the current busways, marking it as the natural evolution of the South East and Northern Busways. It stands as a highly beneficial infrastructure endeavor that Brisbane undoubtedly requires. Nevertheless, the consensus among many is that the project’s name is terrible.
A recent poll by the Brisbane Times revealed an overwhelming 72% of 2,415 voters thought the BERT was a better name.
Brisbane’s RAIL Back on Track lobby spokesperson Robert Dow told the Brisbane Times the best alternative is the Busway Electric Rapid Transit (BERT), and Brisbane Development wholeheartedly agrees.
The name has a similar ring to San Francisco’s BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). While nowhere near the capacity of San Francisco’s BART system, Brisbane’s BERT is an honest name that would celebrate and give credibility to the electric busway system which is actually world leading for what it is.
However, the existing name complicates the situation, and Council is still reluctant to consider a renaming, even though rebranding costs may escalate once the project is completed.
Preserving the name ‘Metro’ is also essential for the day when the Queensland Government finally takes the action it needs to take and provides us with a full-fledged metro line, such as the mooted Brisbane Subway East-West Line, which would traverse the areas experiencing significant density growth in inner-Brisbane.