Between November 2018 and April 2019, the Smart Bus Priority System was trialled by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). It was a signalling priority system that facilitates green traffic signals in favour of public buses that are delayed due to traffic conditions or accidents.
The Priority System aimed to provide faster and more reliable bus journeys for commuters. It was tested on Tower Transit Bus Service 98 and SBS Transit Bus Service 99, which ply Jurong East Avenue 1 and Jurong West Avenue 1 between Jurong Town Hall Road and Jurong West Street 42/52.
As part of the trial, each bus was fitted with a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracker that transmits its real-time location to a back-end assessment system. As the bus approaches a traffic junction, the system would communicate with the traffic lights and prioritise the movement of the bus, if required, by either extending the green signal duration or shortening the red signal duration.
Services 98 and 99 were chosen for the trial because both routes encounter multiple signalised crossings, which would enable the LTA to evaluate the effectiveness of the system. A total of 56 buses serve these two routes, and all of them will be fitted with the GPS trackers.
System data collected during the trial was be analysed at the end of the trial period to determine whether the system can effectively complement existing bus priority measures, such as bus lanes, B-signal at junctions and bus priority boxes, to improve bus journey times and reliability.
This trial was not the first time that a Bus Priority System has been trialled. When first introduced in 1998, buses operating on TIBS Rapidbus Service 700 were fitted with special transponders which retain the green light at selected traffic junctions until the bus has cleared the junction. The transponder trial was later discontinued.
More information on the TIBS trial can be found here.
System provider & Trial results
The TRANSnet Public Transport Priority system made by Advantech was used for the trial.
According to its blog post, a number of new features were added to TRANSnet, including Automated Bus Headway Scheduling, and several new Reporting and Monitoring tools were also introduced. The trial utilised multiple technologies based on the TRANSnet Tracker units, including GPS positioning data, Wireless network communications, and Automated Scheduling, all working together in an integrated environment to keep bus services operating to expected headways.
As a result, the system delivered an average of 10.3% reduction in the time buses spent queuing at traffic signals. This translated into a 16.6% improvement in headway regulation.