Friday, 24 February 2012

Technology helps buses make light work of busy junctions

Bus drivers and passengers in West Yorkshire are seeing red less often thanks to state of the art technology developed by engineers at Leeds City Council.

The system uses existing GPS satellite technology based on Metro’s “yournextbus” service to detect when a bus is approaching traffic lights. This links to computer software known as SPRUCE which adjusts the timing of the lights to allow buses priority, reducing delays on journeys and improving reliability.

The SPRUCE Intelligent Bus Priority system was originally developed for the Leeds Supertram but has been modified for use with buses, which pose greater challenges since they are more frequent and have longer boarding times.

It has been successfully applied at a number of sites in the city including the A660 and bus route 4 between Whinmoor and Pudsey. Now it is being rolled out at 66 more traffic lights in the city.

Leeds engineers are currently working with Bradford and Calderdale councils to introduce the technology at a further 82 sites. Other local authorities including Sheffield are also installing it.

West Yorkshire Fire Service is also piloting the system to provide fire appliances from three Leeds stations with ‘green waves’ through busy junctions.

Wakefield and Kirklees councils are introducing similar bus priority schemes using Metro's “yournextbus” service, though they do not use the Leeds software.
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Using “yournextbus” means the schemes are cheaper and more efficient than older technology still in use elsewhere in the country.

Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and economy said:

“This is a great example of the council sharing expertise with partners like Metro, West Yorkshire Fire Service and other local authorities to the benefit of all.

“If we are to get more people travelling by bus and reduce traffic congestion we have made sure that their journeys are as punctual and reliable as possible.

“Giving buses priority at traffic lights can help that process. Our engineers have done a fantastic job in working with Metro to develop this technology and to get it working effectively even at very complex junctions. It’s really encouraging to see that other local authorities have recognised that and are making use of our system.”

Cllr James Lewis, Metro's Chairman, said:

"The Traffic Light Priority system being introduced by Leeds and the other District Councils is a good example of how we can use existing technology to benefit bus passengers even further.

"Instead of installing expensive detectors at busy junctions, we can use yournextbus to determine when buses are approaching busy junctions and give buses priority, so that they aren't held up by congestion.

"Using transport assets better and improving connectivity by making bus journeys more effective in shaping the local economy are key aims of the third Local Transport Plan for West Yorkshire, and I'm delighted that Metro and the District Councils have been able to work together to make this Traffic Light Priority scheme a reality.”


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For media enquiries, please contact;
Annie Goodyear, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937
Email: anniegoodyear@leeds.gov.uk