How Transit Signal Priority helps connect Baltimore
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.
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.
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.
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