How Transit Signal Priority helps connect Baltimore

Posted in: Bridges, Construction, Highways


City bus traveling in bus only lane
The TSP system along the Howard Street Light Rail Transit Corridor resulted in nearly 180 person-hours saved per day and decreased the chances of stopping at a traffic signal by nearly 40%.

Decreasing congestion and increasing traffic flows for travelers, especially in highly populated urban areas, continues to be a high priority for departments of transportation nationwide. Using Transit Signal Priority (TSP) can help us accomplish this. TSP is a tool used to adjust a traffic signal’s timing when transit vehicles (i.e. buses) are present, giving transit users priority at intersections. This increases transit system’s efficiency and reliability. TSP helps transit vehicles stay on schedule, especially within long corridors or at intersections with a long signal cycle.

TSP applied

I recently presented on the BaltimoreLink TSP project at the Washington, DC Section Institute of Transportation Engineers (WDCSITE) Annual Conference. The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) launched the BaltimoreLink initiative to improve its bus system. The bus system had become inefficient, serving areas no longer in high demand, and the bus routes were far too long to manage reliably.

As the name suggests, CityLink buses link the City of Baltimore together. Our team performed TSP feasibility for all 710 traffic signals that CityLink buses pass by. We evaluated which intersections within a corridor would benefit the most from TSP. Each intersection was given a TSP feasibility score using operational, traffic-related and geometric factors.

man presenting
Presenting at the 2019 WDCSITE Annual Conference and Business Meeting.

The TSP system we designed and implemented was vital to the success of the BaltimoreLink project. On average, TSP improved bus travel times by 10%, saving buses up to 4 minutes each way during peak periods of travel. The improved bus network focuses on serving job centers, connecting MTA buses to rail routes, and improving reliability, speed, and safety of passengers. Ultimately, the project showcases how TSP systems can be used to increase the quality of life for the communities we serve.


Anam Ardeshiri

About the Author

Anam Ardeshiri is a transportation/traffic engineer serving the mid-Atlantic region. He relishes the chance to provide innovative solutions for our clients’ toughest project challenges. Outside the transportation sector, Anam is a soccer player and an environmental & wildlife activist!

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