A new initiative in Swansea will see traffic lights kept on green for buses that are running late.
GPS data about the position of each bus allows the operator, First Cymru, to know when one is behind schedule. The data is transmitted to Swansea Council’s traffic control centre, where normal traffic light timings can be overridden to allow the bus to take priority over other traffic and get back on track.
Justin Davies of the bus company, First Cymru, told BBC Good Morning Wales: “We’re starting to see quite clearly where the timetables don’t quite work. If a bus is running a little bit late, traffic lights will change to favour the bus, to enable its journey to be slightly speeded up and catch up its time.
”Where the bus is running normally, the traffic light sequence will be absolutely as it is now.”
Drivers’ group IAM Roadsmart has welcomed the practice. Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy, told The Independent: “It’s all about making public transport more reliable and attractive, to get rid of the image that you stand at a bus stop in the drizzle for hours on end and then two come along at once.
“If we can persuade some drivers that public transport is reliable, they will get out of their cars and take the bus. That will reduce congestion and air pollution in city centres. But buses need to be warm, comfortable and above all on time.”
Mr Shallcross, who works for the organisation formerly known as the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said many drivers would be unaware that they were being held for a bus.
“If I was stuck, I’m not absolutely sure that I would know that the lights had been kept on green for a bus.
“It could be momentarily frustrating, but we accept that bus and bike lanes are there for a purpose.
“What we don’t appreciated is being beaten with a stick and told to get out of a car when there isn’t a viable alternative, when public transport isn’t adequate and reliable.”
Some buses in the area were cancelled or diverted over the weekend due to extreme wintry weather.
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