Bus controlled traffic lights

wjhall
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Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby wjhall » 15 Mar 2019, 10:39am

I would welcome references to bus or tram controlled traffic lights, both system (1) and equipment level, particularly manufacturer's data or official descriptions of systems, although histories would also be useful (2).

I am thinking of things like refs (1) and (2) but for as many examples as possible, both in the UK and abroad.

It is my understanding that trams have always controlled road signals, but that buses doing so is a newer development. Also I believe that trams often, but not always, have absolute priority in setting signals for the tram route. I suspect UK practice tends to regard a tram route as something that should take its turn with other traffic, as bus routes generally do.



(1) Selective vehicle detection in London – official TFL leaflet http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/ ... e-2006.pdf

(2) Bus & tram priority in Sheffield – unofficial description
http://busmeister.wikispaces.com/intro_TSP

The purpose of the enquiry is to develop arguments for freeing the space used by bus lanes for cycle use.

thirdcrank
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby thirdcrank » 15 Mar 2019, 2:18pm

I'm unsure about what you are getting at here so this is more of an attempt to get a discussion going than contributing much.

Re trams, a starting point may be the ORR

https://orr.gov.uk/about-orr/who-we-wor ... d-tramways

Re bus lanes, AFAIK, the general idea is that cyclists should usually be able to use bus lanes (I've highlighted usually because the only way to know when riding is to check the accompanying signs, which should, in turn, reflect what it says in the relevant traffic regulation order (TRO.)

IME - and perhaps this is what you are getting at - when there's been a problem it's with bus lanes designed to give priority to buses at traffic lights, when it may not be easy to devise something which identifies the approach of buses and cyclists but stops car drivers using the bus lane. Around here, and it's only AFAIK, drivers misusing a bus lane are nowadays detected by camera.

Vorpal
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby Vorpal » 15 Mar 2019, 2:52pm

I know that in Norway some of the new tram systems (Bergen) or upgrades to existing systems (Oslo) include signal preemption, so that a tram gets priority at traffic lights. I believe it is based upon when the tram doors close at the stop prior to the traffic lights.

Busses on bus lanes and trams have their own signals in Norway, and even if the bus or tram cannot control them, they are typically optimised to favour public transport over private. Pedal cyclists can always use bus lanes, and they can also use the same areas as trams on the streets, or use streets that are closed to private motor vehicles, but allow busses and/or trams.

I you want more informaiton on signal preemption on Norwegian trams, I can try to find it.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

wjhall
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby wjhall » 15 Mar 2019, 4:20pm

The ORR list will be useful, I need to work through it, but a first flick through the references for the Manchester system suggests links concerned with the public interface (wonders thereof) rather than the way the system operates. I have been told that the Manchester trams do obtain priority over some junctions and have done so since introduction of the T68 type in 1992, but no official references or technical details yet.

I have so far one additional reference for Melbourne, (3) which describes two forms of priority and effects on bus & tram journey times in different circumstances. About as far from the UK as you can get, but I assume that it is not a unique antipodean technical solution.

A Norwegian reference would be useful if you can find it. The system you describe sounds like the passive technique, one of the two techniques used in Melbourne. I am quite surprised to hear that traffic light preemption is new, I thought it came in with trams, but I suppose the old system of controlling points by traction motor current draw came in before traffic lights.

What I am getting at is that by using bus controlled signals bus lanes could be abolished entirely and the space reallocated exclusively to cyclists. The idea that buses, the biggest vehicles, and bicycles, the smallest should share a lane is fundamentally flawed, or to put it another way, an example of bicycles being stuck in as an afterthought. Buses should also benefit by avoiding the problems of entering and leaving bus lanes, and waiting at lights with the rest of the traffic. It would probably be safer too, removing the anomaly of trying to run the fastest traffic down the nearside, which is not the normal rule, and road space would be more efficiently used, depending how many cyclists turn up.

Modern technology ought to make this kind of control easy, bus lanes belong in the stone age, although they fit most councils predilection for spending money on minor civil works, and general lack of interest in anything that might actually have an effect. I was interested to note that the Melbourne system (3), and apparently the Manchester arrangements use induction loop sensors, so nothing technologically novel there, although the London arrangements (1) mention GPS and other inputs, stating that they are used to control green extensions and that other uses will be considered in the future.


(3)Bus & tram priority in Melbourne – conference paper
http://www.jctconsultancy.co.uk/Symposi ... tralia.pdf

thirdcrank
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby thirdcrank » 15 Mar 2019, 5:00pm

As you are talking about a strategy for the future, one area to consider may be the eventual provision for autonomous AKA driverless vehicles, especially buses. I get the impression that the authorities are increasingly keen to get riders out of the road eg by routing them behind bus stops.

Vorpal
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby Vorpal » 15 Mar 2019, 7:29pm

The advantage of bus lanes (and cycle lanes!) is that they can still operate effectively in congestion. I don't think we should give up the advantage that buses have over private motor transport where bus lanes can bypass congestion.

Of course, there might be places where it makes sense, but as a rule, I'd not think so.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Bmblbzzz
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby Bmblbzzz » 15 Mar 2019, 8:11pm

Vorpal has preempted(!) my thoughts. Bus lanes allow a bus (or tram, etc) to make progress on an otherwise congested street. Optimisation of signals is also worthwhile but won't do anything if there's half a mile of stationary traffic waiting at the lights.

kwackers
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby kwackers » 15 Mar 2019, 9:13pm

Vorpal wrote:The advantage of bus lanes (and cycle lanes!) is that they can still operate effectively in congestion. I don't think we should give up the advantage that buses have over private motor transport where bus lanes can bypass congestion.

Of course, there might be places where it makes sense, but as a rule, I'd not think so.

Should tell that to Mayor Joe Anderson. Liverpool got rid of all it's bus lanes 'as a test' then when the results proved that traffic was actually slower as a result decided he'd can them anyway.

thirdcrank
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Mar 2019, 7:26am

Although both are public transport, I think there are a lot of pretty fundamental differences between tram and bus systems. eg The arrangements for getting passengers on and off.

There are relatively few tram systems in the UK and I doubt we are going to get more, not least because they are so expensive. Leeds was one of the last places to lose its original tram system (1959) and towards the end of the millennium was desperate to get another. Megabucks were spent in planning and in making unofficial preparations - works which were obviously preparing for trams but claimed to be for other reasons - and the only thought given to cyclists was to get them out of the road of the trams which never materialised. My points here are that those systems are there, they are unlikely to change one iota to improve conditions for cyclists, and in the unlikely event that another system is planned, cyclists will only be seen as a potential nuisance.

In spite of the potential for problems when cyclists share exclusive space with buses, I think they are more imagined than real. I've suggested on here before that the term "bus lane" should be reserved for the relatively few lanes which are exclusively for buses. Where they are for both buses and cyclists, then the term "bus and cycle lane" avoids the implication that cyclists are there on sufferance. Unfortunately, it's too much of a mouthful, especially if taxis are permitted as well.

A big problem for cyclists is created when car-centric neighbourhood-wide traffic management schemes are introduced, often with existing streets made one-way. Arrangements to help buses such as contraflow lanes in one-way streets and exemptions from traffic bans can be great for cyclists when they are properly considered.

Bmblbzzz
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby Bmblbzzz » 16 Mar 2019, 5:52pm

thirdcrank wrote:Although both are public transport, I think there are a lot of pretty fundamental differences between tram and bus systems. eg The arrangements for getting passengers on and off.

Please elaborate...

A big problem for cyclists is created when car-centric neighbourhood-wide traffic management schemes are introduced, often with existing streets made one-way. Arrangements to help buses such as contraflow lanes in one-way streets and exemptions from traffic bans can be great for cyclists when they are properly considered.

I agree 100%.

thirdcrank
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Mar 2019, 6:27pm

When I was a child in Leeds, we still had a comprehensive track network with most of the tracks running down the middle of the general road network. At trams stops, the passengers were either on the pavement waiting to get on, or on the tram in the middle of the road waiting to get off. Once the tram was stationary they trooped across the nearside lane to tram or footway, depending on whether they were getting on or off. The trams had a driver's cab at each end, the one used depending on which way the tram was going. To the right of the cab there was an open platform where passengers got on and off when that end of the tram was at the back. BUT, passengers with prams, almost invariably women in those unenlightened days, walked down the offside of the tram and man(?)handled their pram onto the temporarily unused open platform next to the driver's cab. They then walked back down the outside of the pram with the child from the pram and possibly any others in their care, before getting on at the open platform on the rear nearside. The conductor shouted "Hold on tight!" and it was ding-ding! the signal for setting off.

Much less traffic in those days of course, but more recently, the Times newspaper reprinted an article from IIRC 1926 in which the then metropolitan commissioner was reported to have instructed that any reports of drivers passing trams down the nearside at stops must be submitted to his office for his personal attention.

More recently still, in my CTC RtoR days, I asked how the proposed Leeds Supertram would deal with this and the answer was that there would be stops at islands in the middle of the road with pelican-type crossing to get passengers across to the pavement.

Of course, cyclists and buses playing leapfrog between stops can be a PITA for all concerned and as I've posted somewhere above, plans for driverless buses seem to involve farcilities round the back of bus stop shelters.

Bmblbzzz
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby Bmblbzzz » 16 Mar 2019, 8:56pm

thirdcrank wrote:Of course, cyclists and buses playing leapfrog between stops can be a PITA for all concerned and as I've posted somewhere above, plans for driverless buses seem to involve farcilities round the back of bus stop shelters.

Floating bus stops. Common in some places, being introduced in some parts of UK. They're nothing to do with driverless buses, which are still at least a decade off, probably more.

Bmblbzzz
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby Bmblbzzz » 16 Mar 2019, 9:20pm

Getting back to the trams for a sec, or the tram stops, it's been observed many times that central islands require 100% of passengers to cross 50% of the street, kerbside stops require 50% of the passengers to cross 100% of the street.

Pete Owens
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby Pete Owens » 16 Mar 2019, 10:04pm

There can be an issue with bus controlled lights in a situation where buses are the only motor traffic.
Eg this bus/cycle route heading north from the centre of Warrington:
https://www.cyclestreets.net/location/58839/
There are no loop detectors, so lights don't respond to vehicles other than buses which does mean the lane doesn't get abused. However, that leaves the problem of how to allow cyclists to pass.

The solution in this case is to install a push button unit - identical to one on a toucan crossing, but turned to face the carriageway:
https://www.google.com/maps/@53.3959837,-2.5939853,3a,46.2y,214.63h,86.39t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6cJRv2_b1F3OV3vWAVFYig!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
It does work, so long as you realise it's there. If you just roll up to the stop line and expect the lights to change then you will have to wait for the next bus!

thirdcrank
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Re: Bus controlled traffic lights

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Mar 2019, 7:43am

We had exactly the situation described by Pete Owens in Leeds, although it's now a long time ago and I've posted about it before. It was a contraflow bus and cycle lane on Park Row in the city centre. To prevent abuse by car drivers, only buses were detected - and I cannot remember how that was achieved. To complicate it further, at one junction buses only got a green on alternate cycles. So, even if a bus was using the lane - and I presume bus drivers were briefed on the arrangement - it was an arrangement almost guaranteed to lead to non-compliance by riders. My own use of the lane was only occasional - mainly early on Sunday mornings when buses were infrequent. It's not easy in those circumstances to work out what's happening, not least because you can't summon up a bus when you want it to check out your theories. What was obvious was that in the absence of a bus eg during the night or much of Sunday, a law-abiding cyclist would face long delays.

I raised it as a minor issue at a consultation meeting where a former so-called "cycling officer" who was by then seconded to the ill-fated Supertram project, there to talk about the future of the Supertram :lol: slapped me down with a comment I interpreted to mean that I didn't know what I was talking about. Somebody might have offered to look into it but didn't. After all, what do cyclists know about traffic lights? :roll: Sub text, they ignore them anyway.

In the two months before the next consultation meeting, I rode down late at night (shift worker, remember) and sussed it all out. In particular that in the absence of a bus, a cyclist would wait all night for a green.

After my :evil: :evil: :evil: presentation of the facts at the next meeting, a full-blown site meeting was arranged including a council employee on a mountain bike. Pointless for all but effect because mid-afternoon when they have site meetings like this, there was a continuous stream of buses. Probably the most useful result was that the head honcho of Urban Traffic Control gave me his DDI contact number to avert similar "misunderstandings." A button for cyclists was suggested, but the problem was how to ensure that approaching riders knew about it without opening it to abuse. I don't think it was ever resolved before the traffic management on Park Row was rejigged.