Authorities investigate bus tech to integrate with traffic signals

EFFICIENCY: Upgrades to transport technology may lead to a shorter wait for buses at traffic lights around the city.

New technology is being investigated to improve the reliability of the city’s bus network.

Environment Canterbury and the city council have been working on a project to improve the reliability of public transport, as well as infrastructure like traffic lights, with modern technology that could see buses wirelessly communicating with lights or being tracked via GPS on their routes.

“Environment Canterbury, in collaboration with the city council are investigating whether a Real Time Information System could have the ability to, among other things, integrate with traffic signal systems to enable improved bus reliability through managed intersections,” senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon said.

ECan has put out a request out to potential developers for the project, which closes next month.

Mr Gibbon said there are a number of different technologies that could be used ranging from GPS based solutions to physical proximity based solutions.

“We are aware of this type of technology being used in many cities worldwide, including Sydney,” said Mr Gibbon.

He said the aim is to make buses more attractive to the public so that fewer cars are on the road – leading to less congestion and reduced vehicle emissions.

ViaStrada senior traffic engineer and transport planner Glen Koorey said he hopes the technology will come quickly as it would be beneficial for the city’s traffic flow.

“The long-term benefit is if people see that its a good way of travelling around, more people would switch to busses. Then you get benefits for everyone else because there wouldn’t be as many cars stuck in traffic,” said Dr Koorey.

He said it would not take much for the current software to be improved to perform the desired actions.

“It’s just the case of plugging into the existing system and adding additional software,” he said.

City councillor Aaron Keown, who has been outspoken about a need for similar technology, said while he is glad the idea is moving forward he would like to see timelines for the project.

But Mr Gibbon said ECan are not able to determine timeframes or confirm what the final solution is until it is known what options are available.

Any successful outcome will require a phased implementation.