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Improving service through bus priority schemes

Priority measures for bus services (such as green light priority or dedicated bus lanes) can improve both the quality of the service and its efficiency for passengers and operators alike.

Researchers from the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London have looked at how bus priority schemes are identified and managed in 14 different cities across Asia, Australia, Europe and North America – using data from the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG), a consortium of 15 medium and large bus organisations. Their study reviews the decision making processes and establishes best practice for those stakeholders tasked with ensuring effective enforcement of bus priority measures such as city/ borough governments, road authorities, bus operators, passenger groups and police.

The study considers two broad categories of bus priority schemes designed to improve the travel speed of buses and thus punctuality and reliability – defined as…

  • Technology schemes – using traffic signal systems with bus priority or pre-emption capabilities etc
  • Physical infrastructure schemes  – bus lanes, queue jump lanes, bus bulbs, and other physical changes to the road network

SEGREGATED BUS LANE – Image source: Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, 2015


The report then goes on to identify…

  • how bus priority opportunities are identified and selected
  • the benefits for proposals to stakeholders
  • the challenges and risks that operators have experienced with the implementation, operation and enforcement of bus priority solutions
  • bus priority success stories


Read the RTSC study in full.


The Railway and Transport Stratergy Centre (RTSC) was established in 1992 as a centre of excellence serving the railway industry on strategic, economic and technology issues. RTSC has since broadened its international group of research partners and strengthened its position as strategic advisors to public transport organisations around the globe.

The RTSC at Imperial College is well known within the transport industry for its research in the field of public transport operations & management, transport economics and policy, and its expertise in relation to the initiation, facilitation and management of multi-year international benchmarking projects.


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