Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No lane, no gain

Bus lanes, those single lanes of highway pavement for the sole use of buses, perhaps taxis, and in some cases bicycles and motorbikes, are an inexpensive urban traffic management measure that can relieve congestion. If the buses aren’t being held up by other traffic, they can stick to their timetables and consequently offer an attractive alternative to the private car. Bus lane critics, including such luminaries as A. Tom Topper in his bookVery Advanced Driving’ (ISBN 0-7160-2127-7) are very keen to note with considerable envy the strip of asphalt that spends 80% of its time empty when it could be full of Land Cruisers. Actually, the envy is more closely related to “If only I, and I alone, were allowed to use the bus lane I wouldn’t have to queue.” What these detractors fail to realise is that a single bus can successfully remove up to around 70 cars from the road.

Of course, a bus lane can only succeed if it is always empty of delivery vans, cars parked just for a minute outside the shwarma shop, and the car driver who apparently believes that he’s driving a bus.

I applaud the decision and eagerly await a dedicated bus lane between Sharjah and Dubai. But what I await most is how other traffic is going to be kept out of it. Police presence perhaps? That’ll work for a week or so, until Plod gets fed up with standing around with a big bag of Black Points to dispense. A camera on a stick doesn’t seem to eliminate driving on the hard shoulder, so why should a bus lane be any different?

The only solution I envisage working is a dedicated lane, kerbed to keep other vehicles out, and with some form of smart barrier. There would have to be lots of “Buses only. No other vehicles allowed, on pain of getting your car kebabbed” signs. The bus has a transponder that drops the barrier, which shoots up the moment the bus clears it and impales any following vehicle. This video clip shows the deserving victims of such a barrier in England.

To be honest, I look forward to the Schadenfreude of seeing an impaled Mercedes, BMW or even Sunny.

Incidentally, I wonder how long it would take for the appropriate transponder to become available to any self-styled V.V.I.P. who fancied one?



Duffy said...

We've got that here. A segregated bus lane accessible only from big honkin' steel gates (think Mordor's Black Gate). You cannot get in and the only place they let out are bus stops and then ultimately, the terminal.

Is there any chance the metro will alleviate any of this mess?

Jayne said...

Please, please, PLEASE get those barriers (the pop up ones as in the video clip) installed in the proposed bus lanes! Just think of the hours of entertainment they'll provide!

Grumpy Goat said...

@ Duffy: The metro is an Ultimate Bus Lane. It'll surely help within Dubai, but doesn't connect Dubai with Sharjah.

@Jayne: Bollards generally don't affect motorcycles. A plan with no drawbacks, perhaps?

alexander... said...


Maybe you could charge people money to use the bus lane, which would keep it clear, but let those with deeper pockets get a totally traffic-free ride to work!

We could call it... I know! Salik!

R Bailey said...

Just make the bus lane for use by those with an emirates ID card ;-)

hemlock said...

the video was hilarious :D my best is most impaled vehicles would be 4x4s =)

hemlock said...

bet* even

samuraisam said...

I'm amazed it's taken however many years of dubai-sharjah traffic hell to come up with an idea for a bus lane; just an idea, I think it's safe to say that it won't be built till 2020.

Ian-the-Dog said...

'a single bus can successfully remove up to around 70 cars from the road'. Aha, so you've seen the way they drive buses as well!


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