Scheduling lane conversions for bus use on city-wide scales and in time-varying congested traffic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - bus/tram lane, mode - bus, planning - travel demand management, ridership - commuting, policy - congestion


Bus Lanes, Scheduled lane conversion, Road allocation, Public transport, Network-wide modeling


The paper explores what can occur when select street lanes throughout a city are periodically reserved for buses. Simulations of an idealized city were performed to that end. The city’s time-varying travel demand was studied parametrically. In all cases, queues formed throughout the city during a rush, and dissipated during the off-peak period that followed. Bus lanes were activated all at once across the city, and were eventually deactivated in like fashion. Activation and deactivation schedules varied parametrically as well. Schedules that roughly balanced the trip-time savings to bus riders against the added delays to car travelers were thus identified.

Findings reveal why activating conversions near the start of a rush can degrade travel, both by car and by bus. Balance was struck by instead activating lane conversions nearer the end of the rush, when vehicle accumulation in the city was at or near its maximum. Most of the time savings to bus riders accrued after the conversions had been left in place for only 30 min. Leaving them for longer durations often brought modest additional savings to bus travelers. Yet, the added delays to cars often grew large as a result.

These findings held even when buses garnered high ridership shares. This was the case when lane conversions gradually induced new bus trips among residents who formerly did not travel. It was also true when high ridership was a pre-existing feature of the city. Activating conversions a bit earlier in a rush was found to make sense only if commuters shifted from cars to buses in very large numbers. Findings also unveiled how to fine-tune activation and deactivation schedules to suit a city’s congestion level. Guidelines for scheduling conversions in real settings are furnished. So is discussion on how these schedules might be adapted to daily variations in city-wide traffic states. Roles for technology are discussed as well.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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