Traffic Light Priority (TLP)

Metro, in partnership with the five West Yorkshire Councils and bus operators, introduced Traffic Light Priority (TLP) at selected traffic signal locations across West Yorkshire. TLP means that when buses approach traffic signals, the lights are prioritised in favour of the bus to help it stay on schedule.

September 2014

Conventional bus priority

Buses are much more effective at moving people than cars. Providing them with priority enables buses to move people through congestion more efficiently. In West Yorkshire, bus lanes have been the typical form of bus priority used to address delays at selected congestion hotspots. Bus lanes allow buses to by-pass traffic queues, usually on the approach to road junctions, which often results in significant journey time and punctuality benefits. These more conventional measures will continue to be provided as part of the new MyJourney West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan (LTP) which was introduced in April 2011. Thirty bus priority schemes are included in the LTP 2011-14 Implementation Plan, including proposals for new bus lanes and smaller-scale measures and upgrades to existing facilities.

 

Why provide TLP for buses

TLP provides an additional way of achieving bus journey time reductions and improvements in timetable reliability. It also: 

  • helps buses run on time
  • increases the attractiveness of the bus as a choice of travel
  • helps reduce the effects of traffic congestion on buses.

How does TLP work?

 

Conventional TLP systems use expensive roadside detectors to identify a bus passing a particular point. Metro's existing yournextbus* tracking service enables roadside detectors to be replaced with 'virtual’ detectors which depend only on the bus's location, which is constantly being tracked via GPS satellites. This technology provides a low-cost solution for buses to be given priority when approaching signalled junctions. Normal traffic light timings at a location would be changed in favour of the bus, either by shortening an existing red signal or extending the green. This is initiated by a bus passing a virtual detection point, which enables on-bus equipment to send a radio signal either directly to the nearby on-street traffic light controller box or via the particular District Council's Urban Traffic Control (UTC) computer.

  

Although traffic on other parts of the junction may temporarily experience an increased delay, this can be compensated once the prioritised bus has passed through the junction. TLP is sometimes installed with other types of signal technology that helps general traffic as well as buses, although TLP is usually the low cost element of the scheme. 

 

* The yournextbus real-time service enables passengers to find out when their buses are due, via a message sent to mobile phones, bus stop real-time information displays, or online.

Journey time improvements 

TLP aims to ensure that all buses run to their scheduled timetable. Although savings will average just a few seconds per junction, there will be noticeable improvement at some junctions across the county. Monitoring of a sample of completed sites show that journey time benefits are significant, particularly where TLP is in place at a series of junctions on a bus route. The ability to deliver journey time benefits, combined with the relatively low cost and speedy implementation, makes TLP an extremely cost-effective solution. It is estimated that more than 60 million bus passenger journeys take place each year on routes that will benefit from TLP implementation.

Implementation of TLP in West Yorkshire

The TLP programme has now been completed, with signal priority of buses implemented at over 240 sites across West Yorkshire.   

Will TLP mean the end of buses seeing red?

Because of high bus and general traffic flows, and also the need to consider pedestrian delay and safety, it will never be possible to completely remove the need for buses to stop at red lights. However, buses will spend less red-light time at traffic lights, meaning overall journey times are more consistent.

 

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