Designing Streets in Support of Buses

Public transport use should be actively encouraged, whether as part of shorter local journeys or longer journeys using different modes of transport.

Shopping, employment zones, schools and community areas should be served directly by buses, where the stop may also be used as a terminus with a stand or layover facility.

The pages in this section outline the considerations to ensure streets and roads are designed to effectively incorporate buses into the layout.

Bus stops, Routes and Termini

To ensure effective passenger pick-up and drop-off, the approach to the bus stop should be kept permanently clear of parked vehicles.

The associated infrastructure of passenger shelters, real-time passenger information and Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)-compliant raised kerbs should be incorporated as the development progresses.

All ‘intelligent’ services at a bus stop – such as internet connectivity and real-time passenger information – should be connected and functioning before the stop is put into operation. Where such services are not included, it is important to provide the underground infrastructure to allow for their provision in future.

Streets used by buses should be laid out to provide a reasonably direct route in and out of the development. They should also incorporate good access to and from key attractors (such as schools and community or retail centres) as well as trip-generators (such as residential areas). Stops should be provided at key intersections within the local pedestrian network, so as to comply with ECC policy that all new homes are located within 400m actual walking distance of a bus stop.

It may also be appropriate to incorporate bus links or gates and/or bus lanes. These features can encourage use of public transport by affording buses a journey-time advantage.

Bus routes should be designed to avoid the need for buses to make reversing manoeuvres. Where developments sit alongside each other, routes should be designed to run through one development and into/out of the other via a bus gate or similar arrangement. In cases where a terminus is unavoidable, it should be noted that a full-size bus requires a turning circle of 26m in outside diameter.

In general, where the stipulated traffic speed is 30mph or under, bus stops should not be located in laybys unless the location is likely to become a timing point or bus terminus (where buses may wait several minutes for their departure time). Bus stops should instead be located within the overall limits of the carriageway. In situations where a bus standing in the carriageway is likely to cause congestion, it may be necessary to consider the provision of a half layby. 

Service Provision

Bus operators are generally required to offer their services as soon as the street carrying the bus route is in place or when it is agreed that a reasonable number of passengers will benefit from the service. Developers may have to provide a subsidised bus services in the early years of a development so that the service can be made available as the first occupants move in; this helps to establish the habit of using public transport from the outset. Developers of large residential areas must show proposed bus service provision in their planning applications.

Traffic Calming on Bus Routes

Traffic calming by vertical deflection is not recommended on bus routes, though it may be unavoidable in order to achieve other important place-making objectives. Where vertical deflection methods are employed on a bus route, they should take the form of table arrangements with a table over 12m in length. This helps to avoid buses’ ‘grounding’ and thereby minimise negative impacts on bus drivers and passengers.


Page updated: 9/02/2018


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