The T’s New Buses Get Hidden Traffic Advantage

Spur buses use infrared to navigate signals


New buses along the busiest transit route in Fort Worth can speed through traffic signals thanks to an infrared secret.

The Signal Priority Urban Route, or Spur, buses went into service in east Fort Worth on Monday.

The 60-foot articulated buses are the first phase in The T's development of an enhanced bus corridor on East Lancaster Road.

The route's average weekday ridership of 3,6000 is The T's largest bus ridership.

But with so many stops along East Lancaster Avenue, The T had to find a way to speed up the service.

A device on the bus emits an infrared signal that alerts the traffic light that the bus is near. That signal will then tell the computer running the light to either extend the green light so the bus can make it through or accelerate the red light so the bus keeps moving.

"This gives the bus a little more window time so that it can keep up a high frequency schedule on that corridor," said Joan Hunter, Fort Worth Transportation Authority spokeswoman.

It similar to the system used by firetrucks and ambulances but it won't be abrupt like it is for emergency vehicles, Hunt said.

Other drivers will hardly be able to notice a difference in the traffic signals. The T said the only way to tell is to use a stopwatch and compare times, but even that would be an imperfect way to measure the emitters' impact.

Most passengers said they've noticed the buses are where the schedule says they should be.

The T will add several more features to the corridor in the next year, such as improved bus shelters that tell passengers how long it is until the next bus arrives, a feature that will also be found online.

The T also plans on adding enhanced bus shelters and live tracking of the Spur buses to better inform passengers when their bus will arrive.

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