How to Make Halifax Buses Twice as Fast

Halifax, NS, was ranked 20th in Transit this year in Canada by Moneysense magazine. These guys from PLANifax think that there are a number of reasons but, it’s because transit is slow.

For them, buses are slowed down by a variety of issues such as super inefficient routes and time-consuming paper tickets, but a really big factor is traffic, because buses get stuck in congestion, just like everyone else.


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In busy intersections, buses get a side lane so they can jump ahead of a few cars. On top of that, the buses have signal that allows them to go first before the traffic light changes. The city actually already has a couple Transit Priority Signals and Queue Jumping Lanes.
BIS GIS Planifax Buses Lanes
A lane only for buses. Halifax actually doesn’t have any bus lanes right now, but the Integrated Mobility plan as well as several other studies happening are looking into putting these bus lanes on busy roads such as Bayers Road.
BIS GIS Planifax DalTRAC
The DalTRAC lab at Dalhousie University gave access to a pretty cool program that simulates traffic. With this program, we can run thousands of simulations to figure out how much time would be saved if we added transit priority signals and bus lanes. For the purposes of this video, a bus route was simulated between Scotia Square and Lacewood terminal, based on routes 4 and 2.
First a baseline simulation for current travel and boarding times was created. The buses take, on average 39 minutes to complete this route from 7 to 8am.
BIS GIS Planifax DalTRAC 1
Then was ran a simulation where transit priority signals were added. That saved 9 – 15% in travel time.
BIS GIS Planifax DalTRAC 2
For the next simulation the transit priority signals were swapped out with bus lanes. That saved 27% in travel time.
BIS GIS Planifax DalTRAC 3
Finally, an optimal combination of bus lanes and transit priority signals for each part of the route was chosen. The results were the most impressive! The travel time was reduced by 42%!
In this scenario, the bus would take you from Scotia Square to Lacewood terminal in just 22.5 minutes. According to google maps it currently takes up to 29 minutes for cars to get from Scotia Square to Lacewood terminal in the morning. So, with with a combination of transit priority signals and bus lanes, the buses could beat cars!

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