Giving buses priority on major roads helps create more efficient bus services and more reliable bus travel times

Improving bus travel times helps to:

  • Increase bus use.
  • Reduce dependency on cars.
  • Reduce traffic congestion.
  • Improve air quality.

Buses carry up to 50 people and occupy less road space than 50 cars carrying one passenger each.

During the morning peak, the bus lane on the Sydney Harbour Bridge takes more people to the city than all of the other city bound lanes combined.

Initiatives for increasing priority for buses include:

  • Bus and bus only lanes, bus bays and bus 'B' signals.
  • Colouring all bus lanes red (excluding the M2 motorway bus lanes).
  • Bus lane cameras.
  • Transit lanes.
  • T-way bus routes.
  • A public transport priority traffic signal system.

Signals and passenger information

‘B’ signals are a special type of traffic signal which apply only to buses.

They are are generally attached to normal traffic signals and appear as a red or white ‘B’ on a black background.

‘B’ signals give buses priority by allowing them to pass traffic that is queued at the intersection or make special bus-only turns.

Before the normal traffic signals change to green, the ‘B’ signal changes from red to white and only buses are legally allowed to proceed. When the normal signals turn green the other vehicles can then move off.

Public transport information and priority system

Roads and Maritime Services has successfully trialed this system which can alter the sequencing and timing of traffic signals to give priority to buses.

The system uses technology such as global positioning satellites and roadside antennae to deliver information about the bus and its location. This information is used to forecast the arrival time of the bus at traffic signals ahead.

Then, the system alters traffic signal timing to:

  • Allow the bus to maintain its scheduled timetable.
  • Give bus passengers a more reliable service.
  • Allow bus operators to schedule their buses more efficiently.

The same technology can be used to forecast arrival times at bus stops, with the potential to provide passengers with real-time information about the arrive of their bus.

The concept has been trialed on Sydney's Northern Beaches and will be refined for more widespread use.

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