Bus and Rail Transit Preferential Treatments in Mixed Traffic


Alan R. Danaher

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - bus/tram lane, infrastructure - busway, mode - bus, place - north america, infrastructure - traffic signals, place - urban, mode - tram/light rail


Bus lanes, Bus priority, Bus transit, Case studies, Curb extensions, Denver (Colorado), Guideways, Literature reviews, Portland (Oregon), Queue jumper lanes, Rail transit, San Francisco (California), Seattle (Washington), Surveys, Traffic control centers, Traffic signal phases, Traffic signal preemption, Transit operating agencies, Urban areas


This synthesis provides a review of the application of a number of different transit preferential treatments in mixed traffic and offers insights into the decision-making process that can be applied in deciding which preferential treatment might be the most applicable in a particular location. The types of preferential treatments covered include median transitways, exclusive transit lanes, stop modifications, transit signal priority, special signal phasing, queue jump lanes, and curb extensions. The synthesis is offered as a primer on the topic area for use by transit agencies, as well as state, local, and metropolitan transportation, traffic, and planning agency staffs. This synthesis is based on the results from a survey of transit and traffic agencies related to transit preferential treatments on urban streets. Survey results were supplemented by a literature review of 23 documents and in-depth case studies of preferential treatments in four cities -- San Francisco, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), and Denver. Eighty urban area transit agencies and traffic engineering jurisdictions in the United States and Canada were contacted for survey information and 64 (80%) responded. One hundred and ninety-seven individual preferential treatments were reported on survey forms. In addition, San Francisco Muni identified 400 treatments just in its jurisdiction.