Using a Public Education Campaign to Improve Driver Compliance with Streetcar Transit Lanes


Graham Currie

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, infrastructure - right of way, infrastructure - bus/tram lane, planning - safety/accidents, planning - education, ridership - drivers, organisation - regulation, mode - tram/light rail, mode - car


Travel time, Traffic safety education, Traffic regulations, Streetcars, Right of way (Traffic), Melbourne (Australia), Journey time, Compliance, Behavior modification, Awareness, Automobile drivers


On-street operation in mixed traffic is the least desirable right-of-way for light rail and tram systems. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, operates one of the world’s largest streetcar systems. Most of Melbourne’s 195 km of streetcar tracks is protected by road rules that require traffic to avoid delays to trams. However, the rate of compliance with and the level of understanding of these rules are poor. This paper reviews the performance of a public education campaign, called Obey the Yellow, aimed at increasing the level of awareness of and the rate of compliance with road rules. It reports the results of community surveys and provides an analysis of the operational performance of the campaign. Community surveys established that the level of awareness of the road rules that apply to tram lanes has improved, with 28% of respondents saying that they changed their behavior after the campaign. Evidence about the tram system’s operational performance suggests a small improvement, although this has not conclusively been linked directly to the campaign. Operations staff perceived improved driver compliance, but this impact is thought to have lasted less than 4 months after the campaign. There was no significant change in customer satisfaction with trams during the campaign. These results suggest that the campaign was successful in meeting its objectives of improved community awareness of road rules. However, any improvements with compliance have had only small, if any, impacts on reliability and travel time performance. The paper discusses the lessons learned from this experience and how they might be applied to improve streetcar performance in other contexts.