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Does signal priority ever work? I've been to multiple cities that claim to have signal priority for bus and rail. I still see vehicles waiting long times at traffic lights, and do not notice a significant improvement in travel times. Does anyone have a different experience?

Andre Lot

The entrenchment of status quo beneficiaries is really a problem. The few people who have a lot to lose (like having a stop in front of their building being moved two blocks away) have a lot of incentive to be vocal about it, whereas the majority who will benefit a bit is not organized around that.

I think that system-wide reorganization initiatives focused on general outcomes is still the way to go, rather than piecemeal fixes. If someone proposes a new system with a new network where average travel time will decrease by x minutes, it is easier to sell that vision to the public, and to be cast those few complaining about losing 'their' bus stop, 'their' direct route or something like that as over-entitled complainers that are losing an advantage that is not and should not be guaranteed to them.

david vartanoff

Signal priority is a great theory; unfortunately, at least in SF and the East Bay it has been an empty promise. SF Muni supposedly set up the traffic signals to favor the southern Embarcadero streetcar (light rail) lines. But, theynever even turned it on. urrently there is a plan to buy a newer generation of hardware--will they ever actually use it? time will tell.
AC Transit in Oakland/Berkeley/San Leandro claims to have installed hardware on 2 Rapid lite routes. The transponders were only installed on the "branded" buses even though the locals operate more trips per day and, of course whenever there is any maintenance issue non branded buses are deployed. In their in house study of one of the routes, they admit they have no maintenance/testing program. More recently they have decided to scrap the existing hardware and start over. So much for something which could have worked.

david vartanoff

The farside "idee fixe" seems to be another transit improvement du jour which has very little justification in reality. Using my local transit agency as an example, (AC Transit), there are literally dozens of cases where nearside stops are preferable on an objective basis.
At a major transfer point (San Pablo and University Avenues) there is a clear pattern of rider usage which is made both easier and safer by having a nearside stop paired w/ a farside so riders need cross no streets when transferring. (This issue is exacerbated by a long traffic light sequence due to many turning cars)
At another choke point (where the bus route enters/exits a badly laid out commercial strip and generates 2-3 minutes of delay in 2 blocks on most trips) it happens that the street flares out to an extra lane in each direction for the nearside stops. Clearly a queue jump traffic signal would allow the buses to get out ahead of the cars.
Closer to my home is a nearside stop in front of a gas station/convenience store, far more useful for riders than across the street where there is much smaller retail activity.
There are several more similar instances on the same Rapid lite route.

Bottom line, now that we have the contactless fare cards we can look stop by stop at major transfer points to see where they can be fine tuned for maximum ease of use--no crossing streets,

Mark Anderton

In Auckland there are Bus priority lanes now at problem intersections and these do speed up buses by putting them at the front of the queue at each light.
With the spacing of stops one has to also take into account the distance that some passengers will have to walk along the side feeder roads, it is a strange fact that people will walk a lot further to catch the train than they are prepared to walk to catch a bus, this would suggest that there could be a place for a combination of limited stop express buses and local loop grass catcher buses with integrated ticketing allowing walk on walk of loading of the Expresses at more elaborate transit hubs such as train stations, also shorter runs make for better time keeping.


As noticed by Andre Lot, The entrenchment of status quo beneficiaries is really a problem.

In Vancouver we have a Transit Agency, Translink making good propositions to improve the bus network, noticeably by addressing the point (2). A recent example here:


But Vancouver has a city council not only working against that, but trying to make the situation even worse wherever possible and more especially in the downtown where bus are unwelcome by the current council (which has also replaced several bus lanes by curbside parking):


Not surprisingly an inefficient bus network, made of detours to serve special interests, not only provide a poorer service for all, but also cost more money to the tax payer ...That is the least of the Vancouver council concerns: Due to some BC politics specific the blame will go to the Transit agency (a regional authority) anyway...

for the bus lanes transformed in parking, it is the same, the park-meter revenues go straight into the coffer of the city...the additional bus operating cost is shared by tax payer of the region...)


Quick question for you all: why is it better to place the bus stop after the traffic light? Does it have to do with right turners getting in the way?

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