Improving bus journey time reliability

Posted on: 15/09/2017

Bristol City Council invites the industry to develop an even more effective method of improving bus journey time reliability.

Bristol City Council is committed to tackling congestion and supporting Bristol’s economic growth. Bus journey times are affected by congestion to a greater degree than general traffic, as buses cannot re-time or re-route their journeys to avoid congestion.  Bus passengers cite service punctuality as an important factor in choosing this transport mode, therefore efforts have been made in the UK to reduce the impact of congestion on buses in order to increase bus patronage.

A number of measures are used to improve bus journey time reliability, such as bus lanes and bus only roads.  However, where there is insufficient budget or road space for these measures, traffic signal bus priority (TSP) is commonly used to assist buses at traffic signal junctions.  TSP is a term that describes a method which provides priority to buses or traffic movements at traffic signals.  This is done in one of two ways:

-       Stage Extensions:  Extending the stage length of the related traffic stage, so when the bus arrives at the stop line, the signals are still showing green.

-       Stage Recalls:  By recalling the stage needed by the bus, so that the red period is shortened, reducing the delay at the signals for the bus.

Numerous studies have indicated that TSP can provide an improvement in bus journey times or punctuality.  Average journey time improvements of 1-10 second per junction per bus have been reported.  TSP can also provide improvements in fuel efficiency, emissions and vehicle wear and tear.  As a result, TSP is widely used in the UK and many local authorities have invested in it.  However, despite the expected benefits, there are a range of factors that can restrict or negate the effectiveness of TSP.  There are far fewer studies that detail the limitations of TSP or provide any guidance on these limitations to local authorities who are installing it.  Overall the research indicates that TSP can bring benefits for buses, but it needs to be carefully designed and implemented, to prevent it from being ineffective or even detrimental.

The Solution?

As part of the Highways UK 2017 event, Bristol City Council invites the industry to develop an even more effective method of improving bus journey time reliability.

New for the 2017 event, The Intelligent Infrastructure Challenge is a competition involving specific infrastructure client challenges set by Highways England, Bristol City Council, Transport for the North, England’s¬†Economic Heartland¬†the London Air Quality Commission¬†and Transport Scotland. These challenges require innovative technical solutions to problems involving customer service and/or network efficiency and/or safety and security and /or performance.

Each shortlisted candidate will be able to exhibit their solution for free and will be asked to give a 5-minute presentation in The Hub. Each of the challenger clients will be tasked to pick a winner from the shortlist and award a prize at a special ceremony during the event on Thursday, November 9th. Winners will receive various levels of non-financial support from the challenger client.

Click the related documents link below to download the 2017 challenges and click here to apply.

Application closing date: 22nd September

For general enquiries contact Andrew Dowding.

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