Factors Contributing to Bus Lane Obstruction and Usage in New York City: Does Design Matter?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - bus/tram lane, land use - impacts, mode - bus, place - north america


bus lane design, obstruction, environmental factors, effectiveness


This study quantitatively compared the effectiveness of bus lane designs across a variety of traffic environments in New York City. The study addressed the question of whether the recent movement away from curbside lane configurations and white-marked lanes toward offset lane configurations and red-painted lanes is justified by the impacts on bus lane obstruction and usage. Because the traffic environment can heavily impact bus lane effectiveness, the exploration of the effects of design on obstruction and usage required wide sampling and regression modeling. In all, 61 bus lane segments were sampled to allow for isolation and testing of the significance of individual effects. The results of the obstruction model demonstrated the influence of environmental variables, with pedestrian volume and taxi presence significantly impacting obstruction rates. Curbside lanes were 1.39 times more likely to be obstructed than offset lanes (p < .05), and the color of the markings showed no significant impact. The results of the usage model were also influenced by the environment, with obstruction, vehicular volume, and bus type all significantly impacting usage rates. Offset lanes were 1.97 times more likely to be used than curbside lanes, and red-painted lanes were 1.52 times more likely to be used than white-marked lanes (p < .005). Although city agencies cannot completely control the environmental factors affecting bus lane effectiveness, the evidence presented here, that offset lane configurations and red markings increase bus lane effectiveness, helps to justify current design philosophies and guide future design choices.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.