Transit Signal Priority Project Phase II Field and Simulation Evaluation Results
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Transit Signal Priority (TSP) is recognized as an emerging technology that is capable of enhancing traditional transit services. Basic green-extension TSP was implemented on U.S. Route 1 in the Northern Virginia Area (or Washington, DC metropolitan area). This study quantifies the impact of TSP technology on transit-vehicle performance using field-collected Global Positioning System (GPS) data and evaluates the system-wide benefits of TSP operations using computer simulations to expand on the field evaluation study. The field study demonstrated that overall travel-time improvements in the order of 3% to 6% were observed for TSP-operated buses. However, the results also demonstrated that green-extension TSP can increase transit-vehicle travel times by approximately 2.5% during congested morning peak periods. In addition, the study demonstrated that TSP strategies reduce transit-vehicle intersection delay by as much as 23%. The field study demonstrated that the benefits associated with TSP were highly dependent on the roadway level of congestion and were maximized under moderate to low levels of congestion. However, the simulation results indicated that TSP did not result in statistically significant changes in auto or system-wide travel times (differences less than 1%). Furthermore, a paired t-test concluded that basic green-extension TSP did not increase side-street queue lengths. An increase in the traffic demand along Route 1 resulted in increased system-wide detriments; however, these detriments were minimal (less than 1.37%). The study demonstrated that an increase in side-street demand did not result in any statistically significant system-wide detriments. Increasing the frequency of transit vehicles resulted in additional benefits to transit vehicles (savings in transit vehicle travel times by up to 3.42%), but no system-wide benefits were observed. Finally, TSP operations at near-side bus stops (within the detection zone) resulted in increased delays in the range of 2.85%, while TSP operations at mid-block and far-side bus stops resulted in network-wide savings in delay in the range of 1.62%. Consequently, we recommend not implementing TSP in the vicinity of near-side stops that are located within the TSP detection zone. The simulation results indicated that a TSP system generally benefits transit vehicles, but does not guarantee system-wide benefits. In this study, a maximum transit vehicle travel-time savings of 3% to 6% was observed with the provision of green-extension TSP from both the field and simulation evaluation studies. However, the green-extension TSP operation did not benefit nor damage the non-transit vehicles in most cases. Also, it should be noted that the results of the study may be specific to Route 1 corridor because of the unique characteristics of the study corridor, the specific traffic demand, and TSP logic implemented. Finally, the study recommends the calibration of current TSP settings to improve the effectiveness of TSP operation. Also, different transit priority strategies or a combination of other TSP strategies should be investigated to increase the benefits of TSP operations. A conditional TSP system that only provides priority to transit vehicles behind schedule and an intelligent transit monitoring system are also recommended to improve the TSP system on the Route 1 corridor.