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mfs NJT459

Philly testing trolley signals for SEPTA Buses

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Skipping in line is a rude move, but for SEPTA, it may actually be a way to improve bus service. 

That’s why the transit agency and the City of Philadelphia are testing a new traffic signal at the corner of 15th and Market streets designed to give buses a three-second head start over traffic. 

It’s called a queue jump signal and is already used for trolleys. Officials hope that bringing the signals to busy bus corridors will help improve service and ease congestion in increasingly traffic-jammed Center City. 

“We’re working with SEPTA to help transit move more efficiently throughout the city,” said Gus Scheerbaum, director of strategic initiatives for the city’s Streets Department. “We think this queue jump is a means to help save some time for transit users.”

Starting this month, SEPTA drivers approaching 15th and Market in the bus lane heading eastbound heed to the new LED traffic signal, which uses a white bar that tells them to stop or go. Drivers know to brake when the bar is horizontal and move again once it switches to vertical. Drivers have three seconds to forge ahead into the intersection before the green light blinks on for other vehicles.

The three-second head-start is enough to prevent buses from getting blocked in by other vehicles at the intersection, Scheerbaum said. 

“What this special signal does is that it provides a gap for the bus to pull out safely into the intersection before the rest of the traffic goes,” he said.


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