Feasibility Study For the Creation of a Lane For the Exclusive Use of Bus Transport
E Schartz, H Duchâteau, STRATEC, BE
This present assessment is part of the ongoing studies on measures accompanying the
Express Rail Network project for the outskirts of Brussels.
The creation of a special traffic lane reserved for buses and high occupancy vehicles on
motorways giving access to Brussels is in fact a proposal put forward as part of the
infrastructure works to be undertaken by the Task Force for implementation of the
projected Express Rail Network facility for the entire suburbs of Brussels. The aim of
this facility is to create or free traffic lanes so that these can be used by high occupancy
vehicles or express bus services in conjunction with rail transport facilities.
The study centres upon a 13km segment of motorway between Wavre (a town of
30000 inhabitants on the outskirts of Brussels) and Jezus-Eik (a locality within the
Brussels perimeter) in the Wavre-Brussels direction. This trunk line is in effect a typical
traffic congestion point in the morning peak hours.
The study sets itself first of all to examine to what extent a High Occupancy Vehicles
lane (HOV lane) could prove feasible over the stretch of motorway in question. Analyses
have shown that a viable solution must satisfy the following 5 criteria:
1. avoidance of repercussions on the present capacity of the motorway (hence, no
modification of existing traffic lanes);
2. provide a solution that can be rapidly and simply implemented ;
3. provide an economically viable solution ;
4. offer a practicable solution from the standpoint of the authorities (and also juridically
acceptable, especially as regards any possible revision of the highway code);
5. offer maximum guarantees in terms of road safety, both for private motorists and
for bus users.
On the basis of such criteria the solution arrived at in the present study proposes the
adaptation of the emergency lane of the motorway segment indicated above so as to
create an exclusive lane for passenger bus traffic.
A reserved lane of this kind should assure for bus users the benefit of reduced travel
time in accessing the Brussels city centre as also a more regular and punctual commuter
service. Implementation of this measure should, in time, induce other users of the
motorway to change their modes of transport and opt for public facilities, in the present
case bus services, thereby contributing to a reduction in motorway congestion. Similar
undertakings have been successfully implemented in Holland and the United States (the
outer suburbs of Minneapolis and Seattle). The consultant in charge of this study has in
effect visited the U.S. for the purpose of discussing with a number of authorities on the
subject; additionally, he has travelled to Holland for a first hand assessment of the results
achieved through the adaptation of certain emergency lane segments of the motorway
between Breda and Utrecht for bus transport services.
The feasibility study suggests that modifications required between Wavre and Jezus-Eik
would be as follows :
* enlargements of parts of the emergency stopping lane so as to give bus vehicles a lane
width of between 3.40 and 3.60 metres, thereby entailing a reduction of 0.20m in the
width of each of the normal traffic lanes ;
* the creation of 5 emergency lay-by zones for distressed vehicles ;
* the creation of traffic lights, overhead gantry signs (equipped with signalling
preventing access to the reserved lane by vehicles other than buses) and other signalling
necessary to regulate traffic flows.
The circulation on the bus lane should be regulated by two speed limits. The maximum
authorised limit would be 60 km/hour but such limit may not however exceed the limit to
be observed by the adjacent normal traffic lane by more than 25 km/hour.
Travel time between Wavre and entry to Brussels at morning peak hours would be
reduced to19 minutes from the present 30 minutes.
An estimated implementation cost for the stretch of motorway between Wavre and
Brussels is conditional upon the volume of traffic to be borne by the emergency lane. On
the basis of a volume of less than 20 buses per day overall cost of implementation may
be estimated at Euro 1.65 millions.
Association for European Transport