Bus priority in practice: Benefiting towns and cities across the country
Barking: A force for regeneration
In Barking, the East London Transit scheme has contributed to a more prosperous town centre.
In Greater Manchester, the Chorlton bus priority scheme acted as the catalyst for developing a district centre with better trading conditions, improved traffic flow and a safer, more pleasant environment.
The project included installing bus lanes on the approach to Chorlton and ‘built out’ bus stops to enable easier boarding and prevent buses being blocked by traffic. At the same time, more formal arrangements for parking were introduced along with revised traffic routing and new pedestrian crossings.
As planned, the overall package removed conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists, parking and loading activity and vehicles. In addition, redirection of cars onto strategic routes rather than travelling through the district centre meant less traffic in Chorlton and quicker journeys. Built-out bus stops meant more space for roadside parking bays and loading facilities.
All users of the street benefited. Morning peak bus journeys are five minutes faster, the number of passengers boarding buses grew by 23% and congestion fell. Better crossings saw pedestrian flows across junctions increase by 7% – which along with improved parking and loading created a more attractive shopping destination.
The well planned arrangements meant initial concerns expressed during consultation over the impact of the scheme on traffic flow did not materialise in practice.
Transport for Greater Manchester uses similar holistic approaches across its Quality Bus Corridor Programme.
Leeds: Better journeys for all road users
Mansfield: Delivering a safer, more accessible town centre
A new, fully enclosed bus station building was built, with a connecting footbridge to the railway station. Key features of the project include: a new signalised junction; a bus to train interchange and a pedestrian bridge linking bus and rail.
The new bus station was designed to address a number of specific issues with the old bus station, including: limited weather protection; the safety and security of passengers, particularly at night; operational safety; its accessibility; and links with the town centre.
The Mansfield Public Transport Interchange delivered benefits up to £6.50 in return for each £1 invested. The observed demand increase has exceeded expectations. Passenger satisfaction has improved significantly. The reliability of the bus service has improved further since the opening of the new bus station. Other aspects of the service such safety and ease of interchange to rail have also improved. Furthermore, Mansfield public transport interchange showed a 7% growth in its first year of operation alone.
A partnership agreement established at an early stage between local councils and the bus operators helped to ensure the seamless success of the Mansfield Public Transport Interchange.
Not only was the investment great value for money, but local bus infrastructure delivered a safer, more accessible town centre.
Rochester: Faster buses, attractive streets
South East Hampshire: Offering a viable alternative to the car
In South East Hampshire, effective bus infrastructure has been successful, with a significant increase in demand both as a result of new passengers and displaced passengers from other services.
Local decision makers in South East Hampshire wanted to remove the barriers to economic growth caused by the transport system. Phase 1 of the project, opened in April 2012, provided 3.4km of busway for the sole use of buses and cycles. The aim was to improve access to job opportunities, public health services and tertiary education by public transport.
The new route delivered up to £6.94 in economic benefits for each £1 invested. The project resulted in improvements to transport accessibility, safety, and the environmental impact of travel. The project also improved the image of public transport and increased the demand for public transport services, with patronage growing by 48% over the first two years of service. Passenger satisfaction has gone by more than 20% on average and the project achieved a monthly reliability between 85-99%.
The good relationship maintained between the operator and Hampshire County Council was an important factor in the delivery of the project, and the project delivered better access to jobs and services, and a greener, cleaner transport route.
West Sussex: Travelling the 'Fastway'
Along two core routes linking Horley, Gatwick airport and Crawley, the Fastway scheme has implemented a series of bus priority measures. The main elements were the construction of a new bus only link and the widening of existing highways to provide a dedicated bus lane including sections of segregated bus way with kerb guidance. The measures delivered a faster, more frequent and reliable service.
There had been a long-term decline in bus patronage across Crawley prior to the delivery of Fastway. West Sussex County Council decided that a big investment in service quality was needed to stimulate growth in passenger numbers. The project was designed to tackle issues around availability, speed, high fares and poor vehicle design.
Despite various challenges, the Fastway project delivered to users, non-users and the wider economy £4.67 of benefits for each £1 invested. This represents very high value for money. Moreover, Fastway has consistently succeeded in attracting increasing numbers of passengers over the last ten years, exceeding targets. Journey times have been reduced significantly, reliability is over 90% and satisfaction with the service is very high.
There have also been unanticipated benefits, including: greater service flexibility and ability to respond to customer demand; an impact on house prices in the area; and higher investment in bus infrastructure more widely across Crawley.
Effective bus priority measures in West Sussex have delivered a raft of benefits, not just for bus users, and there were a number of key lessons learned in the evaluation.