A New Approach to Evaluating On-Road Public Transport Priority Projects: Balancing the Demand for Limited Road-Space

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - reliability, infrastructure - bus/tram priority, infrastructure - bus/tram priority, planning - environmental impact, land use - impacts, land use - planning, ridership - demand, policy - environment, economics - benefits, mode - bus, mode - tram/light rail, mode - mass transit


Trolley cars, Travel patterns, Travel models (Travel demand), Travel demand, Travel behavior, Transportation planning, Transit, Trams, Trade off analysis, Social costs, Social benefits, Road transportation, Reliability, Public transit, Microsimulation, Methodology, Methodologies, Melbourne (Australia), Mass transit, Local transit, Intracity bus transportation, Highway transportation, Externalities, Environmental impacts, Environmental effects, Cost benefit analysis, Comparison studies, Bus transit, Bus priority, Benefit cost analysis, Alternatives analysis


This paper describes a methodology developed to assist the road management authority in Melbourne, Australia evaluate trade-offs in the use of its limited road-space for new bus and tram priority projects. The approach uses traffic microsimulation modeling to assess road-space re-allocation impacts, travel behavior modeling to assess changes in travel patterns and a social cost-benefit framework to evaluate impacts. The evaluation considers a comprehensive range of impacts including the environmental benefits of improved public transport services and impacts on public transport reliability. The paper critiques previous approaches, describes the proposed method and explores some of the results found in its application. A major finding is that despite a more comprehensive approach to measuring the benefits of bus and tram priority, road-space reallocation is difficult to economically justify in road networks where public transport usage is low and car usage high. Strategies involving the balanced deployment of bus and tram priority measures where the allocation of time and space to public transportation minimizes negative traffic impacts is shown to improve the overall management of road-space. Limitations of the proposed methodology are discussed.