Late-running buses may soon get green-light priority on Wellington roads in an attempt by the regional council to improve the reliability and speed of public transport.
As part of Greater Wellington Regional Council's Real Time Information system, traffic signal priority for late buses and those stuck in traffic is likely to be introduced.
Late buses will automatically generate a priority request to the traffic control system - called SCATS after the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System - based on the time they pass a given location compared with the time they were scheduled to.
The request would be fed into the overall traffic control system, and would be honoured only if predefined conditions were met, the council's public transport major projects team leader David Lewry said.
Conditions have not yet been defined but will include measures such as ensuring in a morning peak period less priority is given to buses than later on, he said.
"There must be a balance between buses always being given priority against the need of other traffic and pedestrians. If buses were a priority all the time then nothing would move and it would rapidly cause chaos."
If the conditions were met, the system would then adjust the timing on traffic signals on the route ahead.
Bus drivers would have no control of the priority system.
Traffic signal priority for public transport was a common feature of urban traffic control systems in most cities in the world and had proved to be successful, he said.
Wellington will be the first city in New Zealand to use this particular system - Real Time Information with the SCATS system.
"In some ways it's a spin-off of the Real Time System - it's an additional piece of functionality that comes from the equipment already there."
The cost of its development will be $18, 000, and is included in the Real Time Information budget, he said. The cost of trialling had not yet been determined, but would consist primarily of consultants' fees.
The trial stage, which has not yet begun, will initially involve a single bus route and intersection, and will be tested and accepted by the end of September, Mr Lewry said.
If the trial is successful, the system will be introduced on a gradual basis and conditions will be set relevant to each location, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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