Britpave: The British In-Situ Concrete Paving Association

Why build a guided busway?

Busways provide segregated transport corridors for bus services, allowing operation of regular reliable services with reduced influence from traffic congestion.

Historically on-street bus lanes have suffered from a number of problems in operation:

  • Discontinuities and shared use by other traffic at junctions etc.
  • Obstruction by parked vehicles or delivery vehicles
  • Use by unauthorised vehicles

These all interrupt the timing of the bus service and affect the ability of the bus operator to provide a fast, regular and reliable service.

A dedicated busway which excludes other road users provides a solution to these problems. The permanent infrastructure of a dedicated busway improves public perception of bus travel. Dedicated busways have consistently shown increased patronage figures, when compared to on-road services.

To guide, or not to guide?

Guided busways offer a number advantages over a non-guided busway. These statements relate to kerb guided busways (but some are also true for other guidance technologies).

  • Narrower corridor and reduced land take – guidance means that vehicles can pass closer to each other
  • Self-enforcing – discontinuous pavement and kerb upstands discourage use by unauthorised vehicles
  • Reduced impermeable paved area - incorporation of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) within the guideway
  • Level boarding and docking at stops
  • A guided busway cannot be easily converted into a road – preserves the segregation of the busway against pressure from other road users e.g. taxis, multiple occupancy vehicles

Guided busways as Light Rapid Transit

Guided busways have been developed both as a bus priority measure and also as an affordable alternative to light rapid transit (LRT) systems such as trams and light rail.

The advantages of guided busways over rail-based systems are:

  • Flexibility to access city centres and feed network from outlying areas – buses can leave the guideway to provide a fully integrated door-to-door service
  • Lighter weight vehicles - reduced construction loading, leading to cost savings on infrastructure
  • Reduced cost of vehicles – buses are cheaper than trams or trains
  • Vehicles can be maintained in existing bus depots
  • Less infrastructure required - guided busways do not need overhead electrification, signalling, turnouts, etc.
  • Reduced maintenance requirement – the concrete guideway is durable and virtually maintenance-free throughout its life

Benefits of guided busways

Kerb guided busways provide a public transport system which offers:

  • Affordability and low whole life cost
  • Simplicity of technology
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility and integration with other public transport
  • Capability for vehicles to operate both on and off the guideway
  • Improved public perception of bus travel
  • The kerb guided busway provides all the benefits of a segregated public transport system, but nonetheless can be easily and economically integrated into the existing road and street network of towns, cities and rural areas.

    Guided busways in use

    Guided busways in operation around the world:

    Adelaide O-BahnAustraliaKerb-guided
    Essen O-BahnGermanyKerb-guided
    Leeds and Bradford UKKerb-guided
    Crawley FastwayUKKerb-guided
    Cambridgeshire Guided Busway (Summer 2009)UKKerb-guided
    Ipswich Superoute 66UKKerb-guided
    Edinburgh FastlinkUKKerb-guided
    NancyFranceCentral rail guidance
    CaenFranceCentral rail guidance
    Clermont-FerrandFranceCentral rail guidance
    RouenFranceOptical guidance
    EindhovenThe NetherlandsElectromagnetic guidance
    NagoyaJapanKerb-guided (steel rail)

    There are many more examples. Please use our Contact Form to tell us about projects we have not listed.

    Ride quality

    (Detailed handbooks on the design and construction of kerb-guided busway Infrastructure in the UK are available from the Britpave shop, and free to Britpave members)

    Ride quality on a guided bus is a combination of physical measurable properties and subjective perceptions of the environment.

    Measurable properties include accelerations acting on the passengers, noise and vibrations; subjective elements are factors such as cleanliness and overcrowding.

    The features of the guideway that affect ride quality include:

    • Alignment;
    • Surface regularity;
    • Variation in Gauge;
    • Surface texture;
    • Joints in the running surface and kerbs.

    These can all be influenced in the design, specification and construction of the guideway. Many of the subjective components of ride quality can be influenced by the operator’s choice of vehicle.

    Ride quality should always be considered in context. For example, the ride quality criteria appropriate for a short length of queue-beating urban guideway might be very different from those for a high speed LRT-style route.

    Britpave published advice on construction tolerances in 2006 following a study of the operational guided bus systems in Essen and Leeds. A high level of quality control is required on site to ensure that tolerances are met. These issues are discussed further in the Guided Busway Construction Handbook