Bus Priority Measures
A General Guide
Buses play a key role in Bath's Integrated Transport Strategy. Because buses are capable of carrying more people than most other vehicles, the efficiency of the total transport system can be improved by giving them greater priority. The main objectives of this are to give better service to passengers, with lower journey times and increased reliability, reducing the cost of the service and improving the image of public transport to help make the bus an acceptable alternative to the private car.
Bus lanes are provided on the public highway to afford specific priority for buses. They are identified by the use of "BUS LANE" road markings and blue rectangular signs. Time-plates are required unless the bus lane operates for 24-hours a day and seven days a week. A formal Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is required to create a bus lane.
Use of Bus Lanes
Any vehicle, which can carry eight or more passengers (excluding the driver) may use the bus lane. This includes coaches and mini-buses, and, in addition, exemptions may be provided for taxis, emergency service vehicles, pedal cycles, and in some cases motor cycles. There are generally two types of bus lanes - 24-hour bus lanes and peak period bus lanes. Motorists are not entitled to drive in 24-hour bus lanes but the peak period bus lanes may be used outside the hours of operation displayed on the signs.
Restrictions and Enforcement
All bus lanes have waiting restrictions and loading restrictions associated with them and these may correspond to the hours of operation of the bus lane. However, with non-peak hour bus lanes loading is usually permitted outside the peak hours. Exemptions are specified within the TRO to permit drivers to cross bus lanes to access private driveways.
Currently, the police will prosecute motorists travelling in bus lanes during their hours of operation, whilst Parking Attendants will enforce the loading and waiting restrictions associated with the bus lane. Parking Attendants are also now deployed on some strategic services to take action against drivers who park in and obstruct bus lanes. The use of static and mobile camera and video surveillance has also been introduced in London.
Other Bus Priority Measures
Contra-flow bus lanes enable buses and other exempt vehicles to travel against a one-way flow. This requires a TRO and a 24-hour Bus Lane.
Selective Vehicle Detection (SVD) can be incorporated into certain traffic signal controlled junctions to give priority to buses by extending green signal times or placing a hurry call.
Bus Gates provide signalled slip routes past queues of traffic to enable buses to gain priority over other traffic in known queuing areas.
Bus Only Streets permit buses and other exempted vehicles to enter streets where all other vehicles are prohibited. This requires a TRO.
This information has been reproduced by kind permission of Bristol City Council