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Evaluation of bus-priority-solutions in Switzerland (SVI2001/513)

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project website
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport mode
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Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

Adjusting the priority of public transportation makes it possible to keep public transport systems functioning while maintaining standards of sustainability and economic efficiency. In many cities and urban areas bus - priority schemes have been realised through “simple” means. Due to the continuous increase of traffic, space limitations, and economic restrictions new and innovative solutions are required today and in the future in order to put the political will which is so often present into action.

The functional rules of public transportation, along with the demands on it, the possible malfunctions, and the assessment methods used are discussed. The bus system and its appropriate handling as an element of the whole system places two main requirements on bus-prioritising measures. 
1. Regular operation and therefore high reliability and 
2. Short, unimpaired travel.

Due to its considerably higher carrying capacity, priority should be given to public transportation for a short but critically chosen time. Of great importance is the finding that an unreliable service with theoretically short travel times is rated below one with longer travel times but assured arrival times (reliability, guaranteed transfers).

Disturbances which prevent smooth operation have a wide range of different causes and different impacts. Depending on the issue, individual interchanges, single routes, branches, or the entire network should be analysed. Assessment criteria are available for the analysis and preparation of schemes.


The research report provides a broad and transparent reflection on the topic of busprioritising. Particularly it is aimed to analyse  the "who", "what", and "how" for many measures which support priority handling of public transportation. The report culminates in a catalogue of measures which facilitate the planning of bus-priority schemes, the theme on which the report concentrates. Other lesser known measures are documented and explained based on the literature and 13 available case studies.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Private foundation
Institution Name
Association of Transportation Engineers
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


A typology of measures is delineated and the specific measures are described conceptually. A detailed assessment of the professional literature also provides useful information for a more in-depth study of specific types of measures. Detailed descriptions of implemented and innovative case examples as well as further interesting, but lesser known measures are documented. Here emphasis is placed on documenting the effectiveness of specific measures using comparative tests.

Only a few truly new or unusual measures have been found. These include the following:

  • Dynamic operation optimisation - prioritising depending on schedule status
  • Electronic bus lane - use of the oncoming roadway
  • Bus lane in alternating directions
  • Dynamic roadway clearance - the bus as a “group leader” (i.e. given precedence over private vehicles)

The measures for bus-prioritising are mainly viewed positively. Only a few failures are mentioned. Reasons for those include: insufficient communication, limited effect due to an overall traffic increase, and traffic safety problems (vehicles passing the bus while passengers are exiting and entering).

The increasing numbers of roundabouts are viewed sceptically. Different solutions are used at heavy-traffic roundabouts to combine the benefits of a signal light at peak traffic times with the benefits of the roundabout.

For the individual measures application recommendations are made whenever possible. In general, however, a bus priority scheme is required which takes all means of transportation as well as the technical requirements into account. Often an operational and design concept is necessary for inner city streets in order to meet all of the requirements which are placed on the streetscape design and on scheduled public traffic.

The monitoring and management of traffic congestion from the perspective of busprioritising plays an important role - this is also the case in small towns and urban area municipalities. It is vital to the reliability of bus operation but places high demands on traffic recording and control. With the precise recording of registered vehicles, e.g. with bakes (more accurate than GPS) and a high-performance flexible control system, the bus can be prioritised today very precisely, and with a minimal green phase requirement.

The interviews have shown that the truly appropriate priority handling of the bus-transportation-system has not yet found the necessary acceptan


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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