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Bus Lane

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Bus Lane
York Road Wandsworth - Geograph - 1060877.jpg
A bus lane in Wandsworth
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A bus lane is a section of road space reserved for the sole use of buses. Some examples, however, allow taxis, motorcycles or cycles to use them. Some may be restricted to Local buses, that is private vehicles and long distance routes are not permitted to use them. Bus lanes may be operational 24 hours a day, or they may be part time, for example during morning and/or evening peak periods, as signed. At other times general traffic is permitted to use the bus lane.

Bus lanes are provided to allow buses to travel unhindered by general traffic, therefore improving bus journey time reliability. They may act as a way for buses to bypass queues at junctions. In some cases they allow buses to travel the wrong way down a one-way street. These are known as contraflow bus lanes. In other cases, very short lengths of bus lane form a bus gate, allowing a bus to make a movement that is prohibited to other traffic, often at traffic signal junctions. Some buses gates are controlled by rising bollards to prevent unauthorised use.

United Kingdom


Bus stop on the Runcorn Busway

Busways are bus-only roads, usually segregated by traffic islands, or built entirely separately from other roads. Examples include:

  • Greenwich Busway, running alongside West Parkside on the Greenwich Peninsula
  • Runcorn Busway is a segregated bus network in Runcorn, including an elevated section in the town centre.

Guided Busways

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway at Fen Drayton
Guided busway at Over - Geograph - 4955693.jpg
Cambridgeshire Guided Busway at Over
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Guided Busways are busways where the buses run in a concrete channel, with guide-wheels to steer the bus. Buses can operate at speeds up to 50mph, and because they are guided, they can squeeze through a tighter corridor than non-guided routes. When off the busway, the buses are driven normally.

Examples in the UK include:

  • Ipswich - a 200m long section of guideway connecting two housing areas.
  • Leeds - sections of guideway exist on the A61 and A64 within the city.
  • Crawley - guided sections within the Fastway network.
  • Cambridge to St Ives - a long section of guided busway extending about 16 miles on a former railway alignment.
  • Cambridge to Addenbrooks - a second route running south from Cambridge City Centre
  • Luton to Dunstable busway - runs along a former railway alignment between the two towns.
  • Leigh-Salford-Manchester Guided busway

The guided bus route in Edinburgh has now been replaced by a full tram system.


Also related to buses are Trolleybus systems, where overhead electric power is provided to the 'bus' via a pickup in a similar way to a tram. There are no longer any trolleybuses in use outside museums in the UK.

Main Article: Trolleybus system

Legislation and enforcement

Legal status

Part time bus lane sign, Ballyhackmore in Belfast
Bus lane, sign and entry taper, Queensway, Newport

Bus lanes are designated by a highway authority making a Traffic Regulation Order (Traffic Management Order in London) under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Once the order is made, appropriate signs and lines are required to identify the location of the bus lane and any vehicle types/hours of operation applicable. Bus lanes are often enforced by highway authorities rather than the police, under powers granted under the Traffic Management Act 2004 and the Transport Act 2000. Bus lanes may be enforced by approved camera systems either mounted on buses or static cameras located on-street.

Signs and Markings

Bus lanes must be signed and marked in accordance with TSRGD. The bus lane is divided from the remainder of the road by a thick solid white line. At the start of the bus lane an entry taper is required, but where it restarts after a junction, a shorter taper is permitted. Other traffic may cross the bus lane, for example to turn left, where the solid line is replaced by a broken line. Some authorities choose to surface their bus lanes in coloured material, with green and red being popular choice. There is no legal requirement to do this. Signs must indicate the start and end of bus lanes, as well as their hours of operation.

In Wales, bus lanes are marked in both English and Welsh, saying BUS LANE LON FYSIAU.

Republic of Ireland

Part time bus lane sign and road markings in Cork

Bus lanes are becoming increasingly more common in larger cities in the Republic of Ireland. From observation, the enforcement, particularly of stopping parking is much less strictly enforced as it is in the UK. Bus lanes are marked with similar signage as the UK, except that the bus is a double decker instead of a single. Also, the times of enforcement are usually on a separate white sign below in both English and Irish.

An experimental bus lane was introduced to Fairview Strand in 1971. Dublin's first permanent bus lane was opened on 250 metres of Parliament Street in March 1980. A programme of new bus lanes began the following year.

Bus Lane
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IMG00035.jpgA40 Holborn Viaduct and City Temple, EC1 - Geograph - 668325.jpgWalworth Road, Walworth - Geograph - 949083.jpg02. Knightsbridge - Coppermine - 508.jpgGuided busway at Over - Geograph - 4955693.jpg
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