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Beijing BRT: One bus every two minutes during rush hour

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The speed of the buses should not fall below 25 km/h; the one-way passenger transportation capacity should reach between 10,000 and 15,000 people per hour; buses should not be more than one minute late …… In November, Control Regulations for BRT System's Operation were officially implemented. The regulations contain detailed specifications clarifying BRT's lane rights guarantee, operation, dispatch work, security management, service, ticketing, and road and station maintenance.

Beijing BRT: One bus every two minutes during rush hour

"This regulation and the Technical Specifications for BRT System's Engineering Construction have formed a standard system for Beijing's BRT and filled a gap in China's BRT industry," said a relevant official of Beijing Public Transport Holdings, Ltd. (BPT).

A bus is dispatched every two minutes during rush hour

According to the regulations, specific numbers have been prescribed for some details. For example, the speed of the system's buses should fall below 25 km/h. During rush hour, providing two to four buses can successively get in and out of a station simultaneously, the dispatch frequency should not fall below 20 buses per hour; if it is a single bus mode station, a bus should be dispatched every two minutes.

Reporters learned that so far most BRT lines have reached the standards and BRT Line One has the highest standards. On the afternoon of November 23, it took the reporter one hour and 35 minutes to travel from Qianmen to Demaozhuang in a private car, but only one hour and 10 minutes on a BRT Line One bus. "During rush hour, you can get on a bus in one minute in average; but it is hard to say how long the journey will take if you meet traffic on the way."

Stations must not allow buses to more than 60 seconds late

The system for BRT’s operation, dispatch and management should monitor the operation time of every bus at every bus stop. Allowing a plus-minus punctuality error of 60 seconds, every BRT line should examine the punctuality rate at every stop and ensure that it isn’t lower than 95 percent. In areas covered by the intelligent dispatch system, multi-lane BRT lines should harmoniously and effectively dispatch its buses in general, and guarantee that relevant lanes have reasonable transportation capacity allocation, smooth transportation and convenient bus transfer.

At present, all BRT lines said that they can monitor the operation process of every bus through intelligent dispatch equipment. Through remote and real time monitoring, the bus driver can find out his punctuality at stops already passed allowing the driver to maintain proper speed and a normal operation.

BRT lanes are reserved for BRT buses and emergency service vehicles

The regulations clearly prescribe some "privileges" enjoyed by BRT buses, for example no more than 2 percent of the traffic waiting at traffic lights can be BRT buses. The transportation efficiency, energy consumption and exhaust emission of the BRT system should be superior to those of the Normal Bus Transmit (NBT) system. Special BRT lanes are reserved for BRT buses and fire engines, police vehicles, ambulances and disaster relief vehicles in the case of an emergency, natural disaster or fatal traffic accident. When the lanes are not in operation, sweeper vehicles and maintenance vehicles are permitted to drive on them. If the lanes are covered by snow or ice in winter, snow sweeper vehicles are permitted to drive on the lanes to work only after they have received permission from the dispatchers.

BRT buses have adopted a scheduled repair and classified periodic maintenance system. The buses' condition, incidence of faults, number of working items and technical requirements needing daily checks and maintenance are all superior to those of normal buses. When a traffic accident occurs, an emergency service vehicle will be able to arrive at the site within 30 minutes.

The drivers should have at least five years experience of driving a large vehicle

In addition to the strict requirements for the BRT system, the requirements on the drivers are also stricter than those on drivers of normal buses. The drivers not only should have at least five years experience of driving large vehicles, but should also not have committed any severe traffic regulation violation. Special platform controllers must also be arranged.

The controllers are responsible for security. They should stop passengers from bringing prohibited objects onto buses and maintain order on the platforms. They must be familiar with the emergency rescue plan and procedures and be able to guarantee the security of the platform facilities, cash and other things. In terms of platform security management, a daily security checking system for platform facilities must be established, the whole process of the buses should be completely monitored and remote command should be implemented.

There are five BRT lines in Beijing at present

At present, Beijing has five BRT lines in total, including BRT Line One from Qianmen to Demaozhuang, BRT Line Two from Chaoyangmen to Yangzha, a branch line of BRT Line Two from Yangzha eastwardly to Wuyi Garden of Tongzhou District, BRT Line Three from Andingmen to Hongfuyuan Residential Area West, and a branch line of BRT Line Three from Andingmen to Tiantongbeiyuan.

It will be hard to accelerate the buses if the special lanes are used by other vehicles

The new regulations have been in force for over two weeks, and the reporter found after personally traveling on the lines that the largest obstacle stopping buses from accelerating is that the special lanes are actually used by other vehicles. "Social vehicles always use the special lanes. Therefore, it is hard to accelerate the buses," said a BRT bus driver.

At about 10:00 am on November 23 at Jingguang Bridge, the reporter found that private vehicles often use the special BRT Line Two lane. "During quite perioeds, the speed of the buses can reach 25 km/h, but we can't guarantee that they will during rush hour, because private vehicles always use the special lanes."

Regarding the 25 km/h minimum speed limit required by the regulations, secretary of BRT Line Two Yang Yuqing said that they have worked hard to guarantee a high speed. For example, they have arranged security guards to lead buses in and out of stations, but so far the highest average speed of BRT Line Two buses is 24 km/h. This doesn't meet the standard mainly because there are too many level crossings along Chaoyang Road, and when private vehicles face a red light, they often wait in the special lanes.

All the BRT lines are facing this kind of embarrassing situation because the special lanes are actually not special. A relevant official from BRT Line Three said that at present, 11 kilometers of the line are on an open-access section of road where traffic jams usually occur because private vehicles often use the special lanes. BRT Line One has the longest closed road section, and the buses can reach an average speed exceeding 25 km/h.

The reporter also found that the utilization rate of the Control Technology for bus priority is also not ideal. According to the new regulations, BRT lanes should be closed and the Control Technology for bus priority should be adopted at road crossings. Thus when a green light at a road crossing does not last long enough for a BRT bus to pass, the green light can be prolonged; when a BRT bus faces a red light at a road crossing, the red light will be changed early. However, so far only BRT Line One has adopted this technology. Industry insiders suggested that traffic control departments intensify punishment for drivers using special lanes to guarantee the rapid speed of the BRT buses.

Source: CCTV
Date: 2009-11-27