When Are Bus Lanes Warranted? Considering Economic Efficiency, Social Equity and Strategic Planning Goals


Todd Litman

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - bus/tram lane, mode - bus, land use - transit oriented development, land use - planning, land use - impacts, operations - frequency, operations - performance, operations - capacity


bus lanes, economic efficiency, social equity, strategic planning, transit-oriented development, HOV and HOT lanes


This report describes a framework for determining when bus lanes are warranted based on economic efficiency, social equity and strategic planning objectives. Bus lanes increased urban transport system efficiency and equity by favoring higher value trips and more space-efficient modes over lower-value trips and space-intensive modes. Bus lanes can carry more passengers than general traffic lanes, and so increase total capacity (people per traffic lane), increase transit system operating efficiency, directly benefit bus passengers, cause travellers to shift from automobile to transit which reduces various transportation problems, and support more transit-oriented development. This paper examines how these impacts are considered in conventional planning, describes examples of bus lane planning and evaluation, and discusses ways to optimize their implementation. Much of this analysis also applies to other transit improvements, such as increased service frequency, and other managed lane types such as HOV and HOT lanes. This paper should be of interest to policy analysts, transport planners and engineers, and transit advocates.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Victoria Transport Policy Institute, copyright remains with them.