No more delays on Glasgow’s buses

Published:28-05-2020

No more delays on Glasgow’s buses

Can you remember a time when there was no app to tell you when your bus was coming? Or when there wasn’t even a timetable inside the bus shelter? Just two decades ago, that was reality in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2003, the city council roped us in to start pioneering ‘bus priority’. Today, two computer control systems come together to form BIAS (Bus Information and Signalling System), which prioritises public transport, making bus services more reliable and cutting down on emissions.

BIAS gets you there on time

Back in 2003, the Glasgow City Council and Dynniq partnered to deploy traffic signals that give priority to public transport. The first step was SCOOT (Split, Cycle and Offset Optimisation Technique), an Urban Traffic Management (UTM) system that identifies and prioritises public transport vehicles as they progress through traffic signals on the city’s bus corridors. It connects with radio-controlled traffic lights to improve traffic flow and give buses priority. With less congestion, the buses operated by First run better and are more reliable.

To support this communication system, the second solution we deployed was Chameleon. It is an intelligent communication outstation for UTM systems. Chameleon is deployed at each controller sight, allowing local detection and data processing. Then, through a web-based interface, the city council can monitor local conditions and upload or download new plans, timetables and schedules. Together, the two computer control systems form BIAS. We originally installed these facilities at 240 sites; today, they cover over 650 sites all over Glasgow.

Making the nation proud

In 2014, a third step was needed. With the Commonwealth Games putting Glasgow’s public transport system under greater pressure and scrutiny, we upgraded BIAS to a ‘hosted system’. Glasgow City Council can now lean back, while we control the traffic lights from a location in England. This is a huge relief for the council, as it no longer has to deal with maintenance or system issues. With the Games taking place, it allowed the council to focus on other areas, and the city was commended for its ‘superb organisation’.

Fewer delays, fewer emissions, more information

BIAS facilities are still operational to this day. The system prioritises public transport, while GPS tracking provides travellers with up-to-the-minute information on arrival times at bus stops along the routes. On a wider scale, we can now use data to compare and analyse journey times, to identify bottlenecks, and to further optimise schedules. The environment also benefits: timetables have become more efficient, and SCOOT can monitor emissions in congested areas and modify the level of traffic accordingly.

So, what’s next for traffic control in this city? Around the world, trends show that cars are no longer king, and people have become the priority, especially in city centres. Another trend is driverless cars. And who knows what else we can expect in the coming years? All these new situations and developments mean one thing for us at Dynniq: opportunities for new solutions and better systems that can continue to keep users safe and moving freely.

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