Replacing Bus Lanes to Reduce Congestion ? Thinking Outside the Box



Replacing Bus Lanes to Reduce Congestion ? Thinking Outside the Box

Authors

A Zeb, London Borough of Bexley, UK

Description

This paper focuses on congestion from UK?s perspective, discuses recent initiatives, Transport Innovative Fund and stresses the need for bold lateral thinking in dealing with continuous growth in traffic and its externalities.

Abstract

The most important challenge, after the road safety, before all the major traffic authorities is how to manage the unabated growth in traffic without affecting the accessibility, economic viability and environment of their areas.

The policy of ?predict and provide? for additional traffic, applied successfully since the dawn of industrial revolution, is no longer considered sustainable in the post industrial era.

The optimisation of network capacity using technological or legislative means or strategic traffic management through planning framework are too showing sign of fatigue from the rate of growth in traffic.

There is an increased realisation that a direct financial deterrence i.e. charging for the use of road (Road Pricing) can be an effective and acceptable policy instrument to meet accessibility and environmental objectives. The evidence from Singapore, London and Stockholm as well as experience of toll roads in various parts of the world supports the case for Road Pricing.

This paper focuses on congestion from UK?s perspective, discuses recent initiatives, Transport Innovative Fund and stresses the need for bold lateral thinking in dealing with continuous growth in traffic and its externalities.

It presents a new concept: premium lanes in urban conurbations. Under the concept all bus lanes and high occupancy lanes etc. are abolished and replaced by premium lanes which can be used by toll paying as well as public transport vehicles.

The argument is based on inefficient use of bus lanes by unregulated service (outside London), declining patronage and level of service and economic benefits in providing opportunity to drivers with higher value of time.

The benefits are three fold; all the lane will be used to their design capacity, transfer of traffic from normal lanes to premium lanes will release capacity and a stream revenue will be generated which can be used to offset the operating costs.

Motorists will have a choice to pay a toll and have a more predicted travel conditions or switch mode to public transport or use the existing network. It also discusses equity considerations of premium lanes.

The capital cost to develop premium lane network would be significant but given the current cost of congestion to economy, £18b per annum, there is a strong economic case to attract public and/or private investments to finance the initiative.

Finally, the paper concludes on need to change the public perception about roads from a free service to a utility paradigm and recommends further detailed studies on concept of premium lanes as an alternative to blanket congestion charging schemes.

Publisher

Association for European Transport