Cities show growing interest in ‘late bus’ signals tech


There is growing UK interest in ‘late bus’ traffic signals technology as an ‘equitable’ form of bus priority, with two cities installing the technology.

Liverpool and Swansea are now applying the technology, which alters signal phasing only when an approaching bus is late.


Swansea’s decades-old transponder-based system does not discriminate between late and punctual buses.

The city council decided last year to install ‘late bus technology’, a byproduct of the UTrack software which is being rolled out for its highways telematics. Its investment includes upgrades to its MESH wireless link between traffic signals at 20 junctions and its MOVA demand-responsive traffic controller.

First Cymru is fitting UTrack equipment to its buses, which operate 90% of local services. A report by Swansea council officers said the ‘late bus’ system will allow ‘general traffic to be afforded usual levels of priority when the bus services are running to time, leading to a much more equitable and efficient approach to bus priority.’

Swansea envisages its system providing a regional and national test case.


Merseytravel is about to trial the concept at one junction in Liverpool.

Matthew Goggins, head of bus at Merseytravel, said the system would use the city’s existing Real Time Information (RTI) data to determine whether a bus was late.

This avoids fitting additional equipment to vehicles, since all Liverpool buses, even those of small operators, are part of the RTI system.

The trial would address technical issues, such as the extent of any time lag between detection of a late bus and the signal phasing being amended.

He added: ‘Once the technology is proven, we can roll that out. We’ve got to be clear about how we do it because there will be points where routes cross [each other]. We don’t want to fix a problem on one route and create a problem on another route.’

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