New technology to tackle late-running buses trialled in Manchester

A four-week long pilot of new traffic signalling technology by Transport for Greater Manchester claims to offer potential to improve bus punctuality on some of the region’s busiest routes.

The trial helped late running buses make up time on one of Greater Manchester’s busiest bus corridors, the A6 Stockport Road. The scheme monitored benefits to buses and general traffic, as well as the impact on pedestrian wait times.

SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique), technology was used, which analyses real-time traffic data to optimise and co-ordinate traffic signal timings. The system was used to prioritise the journeys of Greater Manchester’s busiest bus service, the 192, at 14 sets of traffic lights along the busy route between Stockport and Manchester, by the ‘lateness’ of each given bus.

By using transmitters on the buses, the SCOOT system extended the green time as it approached lights – enabling late running services to pass through the junction without the need to stop and wait.

Results showed that of all messages received by the signals throughout the week, 11.8% resulted in priority being granted to buses running behind schedule, providing an average saving of 31 seconds per junction. Across an average commuter’s journey, these savings could add up to a considerable reduction in journey time, according to TfGM.

Alison Chew, Head of Bus Services, TfGM, says: “The A6 bus priority trial was extremely positive and could see us permanently extend the use of this technology across more of the region’s busiest routes.

“While it’s early days, the results that we’ve seen from this initial pilot suggest that if bus priority schemes were increased, services would be more punctual, encouraging more users to use buses and helping to contribute to reduced congestion across the region. Therefore benefitting not only bus users but other road users and pedestrians as well.”

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