The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Chicago BRT deploys Transit Signal Priority Technology

Pace may wave goodbye to 'flag stops' on some routes
Bus agency experimenting with ways to speed up commutes

By Richard Wronski | Tribune reporter
8:36 PM CST, March 2, 2008

Many people don't know it, but if someone wants to board a Pace bus in the suburbs, they don't necessarily have to wait at a designated stop. All one has to do is wave to the driver, and if it's safe to stop, the driver will.

The "flag-stop" policy, a holdover from the early days of suburban bus service, is most useful in lightly populated suburbs. But Pace officials may eliminate it along some of its busiest and most congested routes in order to speed trips and improve on-time performance.

Ending flag stops, finding better locations for designated stops and using high-tech equipment to help buses catch more green lights—a step below what emergency vehicles now use—can pay significant time dividends for riders, Pace officials say.

Starting in August, Pace will experiment with designated-only bus stops on four south Cook County routes. If successful, the concept will be expanded to other suburbs.

While riders along the test routes will no longer be able to hail a bus with a wave of the hand, they should get where they're going faster and closer to schedule, according to Doug Sullivan, Pace's manager of marketing and communications.

A key element of the $688,000 project will be use of one of the transportation industry's hottest tools: transit-signal priority, or TSP.

With a TSP-equipped bus, a transponder acts to keep traffic signals green longer and red lights shorter so stops at intersections are minimized
. The bus is then able to load and unload passengers on what transit planners call the "far side" of the intersections.

"If a bus has to stop at a red light, it loses a lot of time waiting," Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said. "If we can make an adjustment with the signal and get through the intersection more quickly, it saves time and money."

Pace has been using a rudimentary TSP system on its Cermak Road route for several years, and the Chicago Transit Authority is also experimenting with the technology. TSP is "the current big thing" in bus rapid-transit systems these days, Wilmot said, and sophisticated networks are operating in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.


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