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Journal of Public Transportation Article in Volume 16, Issue 4 (2013) by Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Todd Goldman, and Nancy Hannaford - See more at:…

In recent years, there has been a wave of interest and innovation in strategies to make bus operations more efficient and effective. Cities around the country have created new Bus Rapid Transit systems and pursued other strategies to make their regular bus services faster and more reliable. One common approach in urban centers has been the dedication of street space for priority use by buses during designated hours. But the establishment of bus priority lanes on city streets has a long history in the U.S., and there has been little systematic effort to examine their design and management in a comprehensive manner.

Experiences in congested urban centers have shown that simply designating a bus lane is not enough to ensure that operating conditions for buses are improved. Amid the intensive competition for street and curb space that occurs within central business districts, the effectiveness of bus lanes can be quickly undermined in the absence of ongoing enforcement efforts. This study will examine the policies and strategies governing the design, management, and enforcement of bus lanes in major congested urban centers. It will identify innovative practices in the establishment and operation of bus priority lane networks in several major cities in the United States and around the world. It will also identify policy obstacles to improved bus priority lane performance, and propose strategies for addressing these obstacles.

The results of this research will be of interest to transit operators, departments of transportation or public works, and law enforcement agencies in cities that already have downtown bus priority lanes, as well as in those cities considering the creation of such lanes as part of new BRT systems or other bus service enhancement strategies. The successful implementation of bus priority treatments on city streets requires close interagency cooperation, something that can be very difficult to develop and sustain in the absence of clear policy guidance. We hope that the findings and best practices identified as part of this research can help cities develop this policy guidance, so that interagency cooperation around bus priority lane enforcement issues can be made as effective as possible.