Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Prioritising public transport

26.11.2003


Anyone who has ever waited for a bus can relate to the saying that you hang around for an hour and then three come along at once. It has been true in Europe’s congested cities for years, but with the development of a best practice guide for prioritising bus services by the PRISCILLA project it may well be a phrase that falls into disuse.



Through trials in medium-sized European cities where buses are the principal method of public transport, PRISCILLA has detailed solutions to one of the most pressing problems facing city councils and their populations: making public transport fast, efficient and cost effective. As an IST take-up project, the PRISCILLA consortium sought to find the best methods to employ existing transport monitoring and prioritisation technologies on a citywide scale, thereby expanding the options available to city authorities as they seek to reduce citizens’ reliance on private cars, lower congestion and cut pollution.

"The main aim of PRISCILLA was to make bus transport faster and more punctual," explains project coordinator Alexio Picco of Azienda Mobilità e Trasporti in Genoa, Italy. "This can be done in various ways, such as creating dedicated bus lanes, but we proved that telematic technologies can also obtain good results without using up precious city space."


The work of the 11 project partners from Italy, France, UK and Romania has been closely followed by city councils elsewhere in Europe which are seeking to either implement bus prioritisation strategies for the first time or expand existing local systems citywide. Indeed, it may be in this area where the project’s most important recommendations are found.

The advantages of prioritisation
The best practice guide gives several advantages to implementing bus priority across large urban areas where integrated and coordinated methods of monitoring and management can be employed using Urban Traffic Control (UTC) and Advanced Vehicle Location (AVL) systems. Monitoring bus locations can be achieved using the Global Positioning System (GPS), while mobile technologies or electronic tags can be used to communicate buses with UTC centres and individual traffic signalling systems.

According to the results of the trials carried out in Genoa and Toulouse in France, a coordinated system of giving buses priority at traffic signal junctions has the potential to cut travel times by up to 10 per cent and increase punctuality by as much as 24 per cent with no overall impact on other traffic. These results were verified by simulations run in Southampton in the UK.

"Obviously there are considerable differences from city to city across Europe," says Nick Hounsell of the Transportation Research Group at the University of Southampton, one of the project partners. "Congestion is undoubtedly increasing in all of them, however, causing bus services to be less reliable and passenger numbers to decline." Logically, that in turn creates more private traffic.

Though various strategies exist for improving bus services - from creating bus lanes to tolling private cars for entry into cities as London has recently done - the project considers prioritising buses at traffic signals to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient method to improve services.

The software used in PRISCILLA, called SPLIT, was developed by the Transportation Research Group at Southampton University. "Using this software we were able to develop bus priority strategies within the SCOOT Urban Transport System operating in Southampton. Some results were also relevant for our partners in Genoa, Toulouse and Romania," explained Nick Hounsell from the Transportation and Research Group at the University of Southampton, UK. The model has been used in a similar way for studies in London. However, at this stage, there are no plans to exploit it commercially.

The trials principally focused on two possible methods: prioritising all buses at signals (i.e. trying to give every bus a green light as it approaches a junction) or prioritising only those buses that are delayed. The latter option was generally found to be the most beneficial in cutting travel times and increasing punctuality and was also the least disruptive to other types of traffic - a major consideration if bus prioritisation methods are to be accepted not only by the public but also by politicians.

Political support is perhaps the single most important factor to changing public transport and, as the project notes, this support must be continuous if prioritisation systems are to continue to function and offer benefits.

Significant cost benefits too
Compared to constructing individual bus lanes or other infrastructure projects signalling prioritisation for buses is cheaper. And where UTC centres and AVL systems exist, as in many EU cities, employing such a system can pay itself off in as little as six months.

However, where there is little existing infrastructure the costs are considerably higher. This is the case in Romania, where four cities that have closely followed the project’s development under the guidance of the Romanian Union of Public Transport have had to more or less start from scratch. Nonetheless, progress is being made in some areas of the public transport network there, and like many cities across Europe Romanian transport authorities are taking PRISCILLA’s advice into account.

"We have received widespread interest from cities across Europe and many places are following our recommendations," notes Picco. "The really big issue, however, is public funding but soon I foresee a more widespread dedication to improving public transport."

Hounsell agrees: "Bus prioritisation will be used more widely, in fact I see it becoming standard across Europe in combination with other systems." Maybe then catching a bus will be as easy as taking a car.

Gopa Cartermill | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht New players, standardization and digitalization for more rail freight transport
16.07.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht A helping (Sens)Hand
11.04.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose new theory on Alzheimer's, amyloid connection

23.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Research on TGN1412 – Fc:Fcγ receptor interaction: Strong binding does not mean strong effect

23.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria use their enemy -- phage -- for 'self-recognition'

23.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>