New intelligent transport systems applications in Europe to improve bus services

N. Hounsell, Graham Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Applications of information technology are expanding rapidly across all modes of transport, under the general heading of intelligent transport systems (ITS). For bus-based public transport, a cluster of applications has been developed that can help improve the efficiency and performance of buses on the street, thus helping to provide a real transport alternative to the private car. An initial summary of a range of such ITS examples in Europe is provided, including automatic vehicle location (AVL), bus priority in traffic control systems, automatic ticketing systems, automatic camera enforcement systems, and variable message signs. Then the focus shifts to one area where activity is most pronounced—the implementation of AVL systems and their integration with urban traffic control (UTC) systems. A review of typical AVL/UTC systems operational in Europe is then presented through the identification of some eight alternative architectures and associated system characteristics, such as the technologies used and the location of bus priority "intelligence." This is followed by a summary of examples from cities in Europe that have implemented these architectures, together with typical results illustrating the effectiveness of these systems. The diversity of architectures, technologies, and systems is recognized as beneficial in providing customer choice, but can generate a significant difficulty for decision makers in local authorities wishing to invest in public transport ITS technologies. A concluding discussion lists some of the key issues involved in this investment process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalTransportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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