Results of the solution of component: Priority of tram transportation on Vajnorská and Račianska corridors

The transport sector is the third largest producer of air pollution (greenhouse gases)in Slovak Republic, right behind energetics and industry. CO2 emissions from transport represent 17% of the total share of greenhouse gas emissions in Slovakia. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as the implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is realizing the project “Sustainable mobility in the city of Bratislava”, which is financed by the GEF Operational Programme 11 and 5th Strategic Programme promoting innovative sustainable transport systems in cities. This component of the project established a higher degree of priority for Bratislava trams at intersections with traffic lights in order to increase the tram transition speed on said corridors. In addition, the original intention was extended to cover all aspects of a modern tram system.

Two of the four corridors were examined in detail to determine the causes and obstacles that cause the slowing down of tram traffic. Therefore, under this component driving times of Bratislava trams were evaluated. Dopravný podnik Bratislava (Transport Company) provided the data necessary for the evaluation from the operating control system. Almost 20 000 tram rides were included in the database, which represented a sample of the traffic situation in March 2011. For example: for the Račianska corridor an average actual duration of a ride was determined to be 24.5 minutes, but according to time schedules it should be only 20 minutes – which represents an average deceleration/time loss of 4.5 minutes per ride.
In addition, taken into account was the theoretical minimal ride duration – which includes the actual time of a ride plus the time of deceleration between stops – 12.6 minutes (plus 3.5 minutes with total time spent on tram stops).The difference between theoretical and actual ride durations represents a potential for tram priority. The use of this potential would increase the attractiveness of the tram system and would save 3 tram vehicles on the route without the need to change the current driving schedules.

Therefore, such measures were designed, that would help to utilize the aforementioned potential and would ensure fast and reliable tram transport with following characteristics: “The tram stops and will stop only at tram stops”. All recommendations are based on best practice recommendations (best practice solutions) for a modern tram system, which consists of following components:

  • Separation of tram transport from other modes of transport.
  • Arrangement with the least restrictive conditions for rail lines, radius of turn curves, uphill or downhill of the tracks, as well as switches.
  • Attractive architectural design of tram stops reflecting safe waiting time and boarding area.
  • Attractive interchange public transport stations.
  • Priority at intersections without traffic lights.
  • Priority at pedestrian crossings, and
  • Priority at intersections with traffic lights

A part of the proposed solution is the simulation of urban public transport priorities on three intersections with traffic lights. In addition to trams, also buses were taken into account in simulated intersections. The results confirmed the effectiveness of priority for public transport vehicles. Not only was the duration of waiting times for public transport reduced, but also their range. This is essential information for improvement of operation efficiency of public transport. In addition, the results have shown that sophisticated management of intersections with traffic lights does not have a negative impact on individual car transport or on total capacity of intersections. The results derived from sample intersections can easily be applied to other intersections in Bratislava.

The final report on this component’s solution contains the following recommendations for the introduction of measures to encourage priorities tram transport:

  • Priority at intersections program. Technical solutions should be identical for trams and buses. The implementation strategy should begin with solutions for smaller intersections, which are more easily regulated and the results of implemented measures are visible even with the application of relatively low costs.
  • Reconstruction of railways in a bad technical condition. Under the condition that the Bratislava Transport Company has sufficient financial resources for the maintenance and refurbishment of infrastructure even before sections that slow down the tram ride appear.
  • The introduction of trams priority at pedestrian crossings.
  • Less intersections and pedestrian crossings without traffic lights. Other intersections and crossings should be equipped with traffic lights, which would allow “major” priority for trams – as with trains at level crossings.
  • Renovation of tram stops that provide passengers a safe and comfortable space for waiting and boarding the tram. Implementation of a strategy for building of transit stops should be linked to a re-design of the public transport network. Parallel connections by trams and buses, whether urban or regional should be minimized.
  • Reconstruction of lines on main corridors: change of turns’ radius of curves or placement of switches and stops so the trams could reach the speed limit.

For the pilot implementation of tram priorities within the UNDP / GEF Project “Sustainable mobility in the city of Bratislava” we proposed to equip one or two intersections with traffic lights for major trams priority. The proposed intersections are Detvianska – Čachtická and/or Račianska – Gaštanový Hájik. The implementation of the priority program for intersections, where buses and trams meet, should be carried out later, after defining standards for technical equipment permitting priority passage for public transport vehicles. This can not be realized within this project, because of limited resources and time constraints.