Bus rapid transit on dedicated right-of-way and branded bus services with a distinct visual identity have been implemented in various forms around Australia over the past three decades. A major public policy debate has surrounded the relative success of these bus priority and branding measures as compared with generic route services in attracting patronage. In this paper, we devise a metric known as a (gross) performance ratio to quantify the success for each of 7 bus rapid transit systems and 20 branded bus services as compared with regular route buses across six Australian capitals. A regression analysis is conducted to determine the statistical significance of various bus priority and brand identity initiatives which are used as inputs into a normalisation procedure to determine the net performance ratio of each service offering. This allows an informed comparison between systems and cities, controlling for operating environment and other service characteristics. The results reinforce the merits of upgraded bus services both as standalone initiatives and also as an alternative to expensive, rail-based infrastructure investment. Measures like network legibility and brand identity all help upgrade the image of the bus from workhorse to thoroughbred.