Bus rapid transit (BRT), characterized by modern vehicles, dedicated busway and applications of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies, is increasingly considered as a cost‐effective approach of providing a high‐quality transport service. Many cities across the world have recently launched ambitious programmes of BRT system implementation with varying success. This paper intends to provide an overview of the recent developments of BRT across the globe, and discusses the current issues and debates relating to the land development impact of BRT. It considers in turn the impact of BRT examining technical performance, cost issues and land development impact. The paper concludes that appropriately designed and operated BRT systems offer an innovative approach to providing a high‐quality transport service, comparable to a rail service but at a relatively low cost and short implementation time. In common with other forms of mass transit, a full‐featured BRT has the potential to offer significant effects on land development; the literature review also indicates that more work is needed to investigate this.