Monday, April 23, 2012

Aussie thinking moves into the fast lane!

It would be harder to find a more absurd state-the-obvious report than that made recently in West Australia following research by Austroads, the body representing all Australian road authorities. 
According to an article in The Dedicated bus lanes - a centrepiece of the State Government's public transport strategy for the next 20 years - it says could be contributing to Perth's traffic congestion woes. 
Research conducted for Main Roads and other Australian transport and traffic authorities has found some bus lanes have an adverse impact on other road users. While dedicated lanes allowed buses to queue-jump and avoid congestion, they could add to delays facing the motorists they were overtaking.
Has someone missed a cog here? The world is running out of space in central urban areas for everyone to drive to work or make other minor journeys that could as easily be made by public transport. The option is of creating more lanes for cars, typically in rush hour conditions highly unlikely to achieve anything remotely approaching normal car lane capacity of  2400 people per hour. Or to create bus lanes which can  carry 2401 people per hour (if bus 33% full) - an immediate advantage!! But even better, if at capacity loading, bus lanes can carry as many as 7000 passengers per hour. 
Bus lanes have a future and with bus lanes bus journeys get quicker, attract more people that would otherwise travel by car, save more road space - car lanes are finite and under-utilise a rare resource, urban road space. 
World-wide there are thousands of infrastructure changes being made in cities to give buses priority. Priority = buses go first, get first claim to road space. It is hard to read priority as meaning anything else but one system has advantage over another, whoever goes second waits, loses a bit of time.  One wonders what is so different in the meaning of the word "priority" in West Australia that it needs a study to understand it?
Or is it just crocodile tears from the car lobby ?
"The report said full and set-back bus lanes resulted in low and reliable bus times but had an adverse impact on car travel time because of the reduced road space available for motorists. It said dedicated lanes that allowed buses to bypass traffic queues could mean a substantial time saving for buses and their passengers, but this was offset by "additional delay to the vehicles which have been overtaken".
The report said finding a balance between the various road users was a particular challenge in the introduction of a bus priority scheme. 
Yes it is, isn't it. 

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