Investigating Road Safety Impacts of Bus Priority Using Experimental Micro-Simulation Modeling

The safety implications of implementing bus lanes on road corridors remain unclear given that findings from previous research have been mixed. The authors recent research demonstrated improvements in road safety resulting from bus priority in Melbourne however causal factors for this effect remain to be explored. In this study, an experimental microscopic traffic simulation modelling approach was adopted to explore the road safety effects of implementing bus lanes on a representative road corridor in Melbourne. Models compare traffic ‘conflicts’ patterns between three traffic configurations – (1) mixed traffic (base case, no priority), (2) kerbside lane reallocated for buses and (3) new kerbside lane added for buses. For each configuration, the safety performance of the road corridor including intersection approaches and bus stop locations were measured using two safety performance indicators – (1) Deceleration Rate to Avoid a Crash (DRAC) and (2) Crash Potential Index (CPI). Overall results showed that kerbside bus lanes reduce conflict occurrences at intersection approaches and bus stop locations regardless of scheme design (2 or 3). Results point to reductions in rear end and side swipe accidents as a major driver of the reduced road accident risk consistent with outcomes in the authors’ previous research. Bus priority acts to remove bus movements from traffic flows and provides new and separate road space for kerbside turning traffic at intersections. This acts to reduce side swipe and rear end traffic conflicts thus improving road safety. Implications for policy and future research are suggested.

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